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T cells engage in two modes of interaction with antigen-presenting surfaces: stable synapses and motile kinapses. Although it is surmised that durable interactions of T cells with antigen-presenting cells involve synapses, in situ 3D imaging cannot resolve the mode of interaction. We have established in vitro 2D platforms and quantitative metrics to determine cell-intrinsic modes of interaction when T cells are faced with spatially continuous or restricted stimulation. All major resting human T cell subsets, except memory CD8 T cells, spend more time in the kinapse mode on continuous stimulatory surfaces. Surprisingly, we did not observe any concordant relationship between the mode and durability of interaction on cell-sized stimulatory spots. Naive CD8 T cells maintain kinapses for more than 3 hr before leaving stimulatory spots, whereas their memory counterparts maintain synapses for only an hour before leaving. Thus, durable interactions do not require stable synapses.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell rep

Publication Date





340 - 349


adhesion, chemokines, immunological synapse, kinapse, live imaging, lymphocytes, micro-contact printing, migration, Humans, Immunological Synapses, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell