Modular design of immunological synapses and kinapses.
The concept of an immunological synapse goes back to the early 1980s with the discovery of the relationship between T-cell antigen receptor mediated Ca(2+) signaling, adhesion, and directed secretion. However, this concept did not gain traction until images were published starting in 1998 that revealed a specific molecular pattern in the interface between T cells and model antigen-presenting cells or supported planar bilayers. The dominant pattern, a ring of adhesion molecules surrounding a central cluster of antigen receptors, was observed in both model systems. Analysis of the origins of this pattern over the past 10 years has presented a solution for a difficult problem in lymphocyte biology--how a highly motile cell can suddenly stop when it encounters a signal delivered by just a few antigenic ligands on the surface of another cell without disabling the sensory machinery of the motile cell. The T lymphocyte actively assembles the immunological synapse pattern following a modular design with roots in actin-myosin-based motility.