The immunological synapse

S. K. Bromley, W. R. Burack, K. G. Johnsonn, K. Somersalo, T. N. Sims, C. Sumen, M. M. Davis, A. S. Shaw, P. M. Allen, M. L. Dustint

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

765 Scopus citations


The adaptive immune response is initiated by the interaction of T cell antigen receptors with major histocompatibility complex molecule-peptide complexes in the nanometer scale gap between a T cell and an antigen-presenting cell, referred to as an immunological synapse. In this review we focus on the concept of immunological synapse formation as it relates to membrane structure, T cell polarity, signaling pathways, and the antigen-presenting cell. Membrane domains provide an organizational principle for compartmentalization within the immunological synapse. T cell polarization by chemokines increases T cell sensitivity to antigen. The current model is that signaling and formation of the immunological synapse are tightly interwoven in mature T cells. We also extend this model to natural killer cell activation, where the inhibitory NK synapse provides a striking example in which inhibition of signaling leaves the synapse in its nascent, inverted state. The APC may also play an active role in immunological synapse formation, particularly for activation of naïve T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-396
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual Review of Immunology
StatePublished - 2001


  • Cell adhesion
  • Immunological synapse formation
  • Membrane structure
  • Signaling pathways
  • T cell polarity


Dive into the research topics of 'The immunological synapse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this