Mechanical Communication at the Immunological Synapse

Trends Cell Biol. 2017 Apr;27(4):241-254. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2016.10.005. Epub 2016 Dec 13.


T and B lymphocytes communicate by forming immunological synapses with antigen-presenting target cells. These highly dynamic contacts are characterized by continuous cytoskeletal remodeling events, which not only structure the interface but also exert a considerable amount of mechanical force. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that synaptic forces influence information transfer both into and out of the lymphocyte. Here, we review our current understanding of synapse mechanics, focusing on its role as an avenue for intercellular communication.

Keywords: B cell; T cell; immunology; mechanobiology; signal transduction.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cell Communication*
  • Humans
  • Immunological Synapses / metabolism*
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism


  • Integrins
  • Receptors, Immunologic