A firm grip: biomechanics of the immunological synapse

MA Govendir1,2 and M Biro1,2

  1. The University of New South Wales
  2. EMBL Australia node in Single Molecule Science

The cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) is one of the key cell types responsible for eliminating cancer cells and as such, these cells have a great potential in developing anti-cancer immunotherapies. The cytoskeleton in the CTL comprises of critical machinery required for: shape change, cell division and migration. In particular, cytoskeletal remodelling in CTLs is vital for the formation of immunological synapses with tumour cells and subsequent delivery of cytolytic granules in order to induce cell death. Even though this is a physical interaction, the biochemistry behind the T cell receptor signalling pathway is well documented, little is known regarding the biomechanics that underlie CTL and cancer cell contact. Here we will use: a dual-micropipette aspiration assay and optical tweezers in combination with high resolution microscopy will be used to understand how mechanical forces generated by the CTL influences target cell interaction time and area, efficiency of granule release and ultimately its killing capacity.