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The area of contact between a T cell and an antigen-presenting cell (APC) is known as the immunological synapse. Although its exact function is unknown, one model suggests that it allows for T cell receptor (TCR) clustering and for sustained signaling in T cells for many hours. Here we demonstrate that TCR-mediated tyrosine kinase signaling in naïve T cells occurred primarily at the periphery of the synapse and was largely abated before mature immunological synapses had formed. These data suggest that many hours of TCR signaling are not required for T cell activation. These observations challenge current ideas about the role of immunological synapses in T cell activation.

Original publication




Journal article


Science (New York, N.Y.)

Publication Date





1539 - 1542


Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid, Box 8118, Saint Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Antigen-Presenting Cells, T-Lymphocytes, Cells, Cultured, Intercellular Junctions, Animals, Mice, Transgenic, Mice, Lymphocyte Specific Protein Tyrosine Kinase p56(lck), Peptides, Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, Lymphocyte Activation, Signal Transduction, Cell Division, Endocytosis, Receptor Aggregation, Down-Regulation, Enzyme Activation, Time Factors, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, ZAP-70 Protein-Tyrosine Kinase, Protein-Tyrosine Kinases