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T cell activation requires interactions of T cell antigen receptors (TCR) and peptides presented by major histocompatibility complex molecules (MHCp) in an adhesive junction between the T cell and antigen-presenting cell. Stable junctions with bull's eye supramolecular activation clusters (SMACs) have been defined as immunological synapses (IS). These structures maintain T cell-APC interaction and allow directed secretion. T cells can also be activated by asymmetric hemi-synapses (HS) that allow migration during signal integration. IS and HS operate in different stages of T cell priming. Optimal effector functions may also depend upon cyclical use of IS and HS.

Original publication




Journal article


Semin Immunol

Publication Date





400 - 410


Animals, Antigen-Presenting Cells, Cell Movement, Humans, Immunologic Capping, Lymphocyte Activation, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton, Signal Transduction, T-Lymphocytes