Identification of the starting point of immune response: -- T cell receptor microclusters initiate and sustain T cell activation --

November 7, 2005 PRESS RELEASE

Dr. Takashi Saito, Deputy Director, Dr. Tadashi Yokosuka, and their colleages of Laboratory for Cell Signaling at Research Center for Allergy and Immunology, have identified that T cell receptor microclusters are the starting point of immune response.
Their findings show that the microclusters generated on initial contact between T cells and antigen-presenting cells are the precise physical "sites" of the recognition of antigens and T cell activation. In other words, immune response initiates and sustains in microclusters, not in the center of immune synapses as previously thought.
Most autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatism, and allergic diseases, such as atopic dermatitis, are ascribed to overactive T cells. Transplantation medicine currently relies on immunosuppressant drugs to suppress T cell activity. Therefore, these findings of "the starting point of immune responses," are expected to contribute to the development of new medicines that specifically regulate T cells, and may offer a unique perspective in the development of effective immunosuppressant drugs.