To circumvent pathology caused by infectious microbes and tumor growth, the host immune system must constantly clear harmful microorganisms and potentially malignant transformed cells. This task is accomplished in part by T-cells, which can directly kill infected or tumorigenic cells. A crucial event determining the recognition and elimination of detrimental cells is antigen recognition by the T cell receptor (TCR) expressed on the surface of T cells. Upon binding of the TCR to cognate peptide-MHC complexes presented on the surface of antigen presenting cells (APCs), a specialized supramolecular structure known as the immunological synapse (IS) assembles at the T cell-APC interface. Such a structure involves massive redistribution of membrane proteins, including TCR/pMHC complexes, modulatory receptor pairs, and adhesion molecules. Furthermore, assembly of the immunological synapse leads to intracellular events that modulate and define the magnitude and characteristics of the T cell response. Here, we discuss recent literature on the regulation and assembly of IS and the mechanisms evolved by tumors to modulate its function to escape T cell cytotoxicity, as well as novel strategies targeting the IS for therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy