Recent applications of imaging approaches and other methods of cell biology have provided high-resolution visualization of the location of fluorescent proteins in living and fixed cells during cell-cell interactions between lymphocytes, antigen presenting cells and target cells. We review the composition and dynamics of molecular and cyto-skeletal events occurring during natural killer cell interactions with susceptible and nonsusceptible target cells. The natural killer cell immune synapse and the concomitant changes in cytoskeletal components and cytoplasmic organelles are described. The findings are compared with the observations made in Thelper cells and cytotoxic T cells. It is concluded that the cytolytic immune synapses display spatial-temporal dynamics that are accelerated as compared with Thelper cells. In addition, the cytolytic conjugates have unique characteristics relating to their effector function. Furthermore, the natural killer cell immune synapses in cytolytic and noncytolytic interactions are distinctly different and display patterns consistent with characteristic signaling pathways identified in biochemical studies of disrupted cells. The precise relationship between different stages of the natural killer cell immune synapse formation and progression in signal transduction pathways is yet to be established.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy