Research ArticleT CELLS

Interfacial actin protrusions mechanically enhance killing by cytotoxic T cells

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Science Immunology  22 Mar 2019:
Vol. 4, Issue 33, eaav5445
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aav5445

Zooming in on the kiss of death

Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) engage and kill antigen-specific target cells by injecting toxic proteins, including perforin and granzyme, via immunological synapses connecting CTLs with target cells. Using micropillars coated with CTL stimulants, Tamzalit et al. studied the role of mechanical force in aiding delivery of toxins via immunological synapses. This in vitro system facilitates the formation of three-dimensional immune synapses that can be visualized and imaged. By studying actin dynamics and lytic granule fusion within these synapses, they found granule fusion to be physically separated from regions of actin depletion. Their studies illustrate the power of in vitro systems in shedding light on microscopic details of CTL-driven killing of target cells.

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