The cellular context of T cell signaling.
Classical alphabeta T cells protect the host by monitoring intracellular and extracellular proteins in a two-step process. The first step is protein degradation and combination with a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule, leading to surface expression of this amalgam (antigen processing). The second step is the interaction of the T cell receptor with the MHC-peptide complex, leading to signaling in the T cells (antigen recognition). The context for this interaction is a T cell-antigen presenting cell junction, known as an immunological synapse if symmetric and stable and as a kinapse if asymmetric and mobile. The physiological recognition of a ligand takes place most efficiently in the F-actin-rich lamellipodium and is F-actin dependent in stages of formation and triggering and myosin II dependent for signal amplification. This review discusses how these concepts emerged from early studies on adhesion, signaling, and cell biology of T cells.