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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


Seminars in immunology

Publication Date





400 - 410


Program in Molecular Pathogenesis, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, and Department of Pathology, New York University School of Medicine, 540 1st Ave, New York, NY 10016, USA.


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