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Cells in the immune and nervous systems communicate through informational synapses. The two-dimensional chemistry underlying the process of synapse formation is beginning to be explored using fluorescence imaging and mechanical techniques. Early analysis of two-dimensional kinetic rates (k(on) and k(off)) and equilibrium constants (K(d)) provides a number of biological insights. First, there are two regimes for adhesion-one disordered with slow k(on) and the other self-ordered with 10(4)-fold faster k(on). Despite huge variation in two-dimensional k(on), the two-dimensional k(off) is like k(off) in solution, and two-dimensional k(off) is more closely related to intrinsic properties of the interaction than the two-dimensional k(on). Thus difference in k(off) can be used to set signaling thresholds. Early signaling complexes are compartmentalized to generate synergistic signaling domains. Immune antigen receptor components have a role in neural synapse editing. This suggests significant parallels in informational synapse formation based on common two-dimensional chemistry and signaling strategies.

Original publication




Journal article


Annu rev cell dev biol

Publication Date





133 - 157


CD4 Antigens, Cell Communication, Fluorescence, Humans, Kinetics, Lymphocyte Activation, Self Tolerance, Signal Transduction, Synapses, Synaptic Transmission, T-Lymphocytes