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The T cell receptor is a multi-subunit complex that carries out a range of recognition tasks for multiple lymphocyte types and translates recognition into signals that regulate survival, growth, differentiation, and effector functions for innate and adaptive host defense. Recent advances include the cryo-electron microscopy-based structure of the extracellular and transmembrane components of the complex, new information about coupling to intracellular partners, lateral associations in the membrane that all add to our picture of the T cell signaling machinery, and how signal termination relates to effector function. This review endeavors to integrate structural and biochemical information through the lens of the immunological synapse- the critical interface with the antigen-presenting cell.

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Immunology, affinity, allostery, microscopy, receptors