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The immunological synapse is a specialized intercellular junction between a T cell and a target cell that orchestrates the engagement of receptors and ligands in space and time as a means of regulating function. Here we introduce a reagent for controlling the spatial and temporal presentation of natural antigen to T cells. Moth cytochrome c (88-103) peptide (MCC), an agonist to the murine T cell receptor AND when presented in the context of H2 IEk major histocompatibility complex (IEk), was synthesized with the side-chain amine of Lys99 conjugated to a photosensitive protecting group, 6-nitroveratryloxycarbonyl (NVOC). Cells plated on supported bilayers displaying mobile intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and NVOC-MCC loaded IEk did not form immunological synapses and exhibited low intracellular calcium levels, similar to cells presented with self-peptide. Irradiation with UV light was sufficient to restore agonist activity in situ.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the American Chemical Society

Publication Date





15354 - 15355


Biophysics Graduate Group and Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


T-Lymphocytes, Animals, Lipid Bilayers, Peptide Fragments, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, Lymphocyte Activation, Ultraviolet Rays, Calcium Signaling, Antigen Presentation, Major Histocompatibility Complex, Photochemistry