Immunological synapse (IS) is a complex supramolecular structure formed at the interface between T cells and antigen presenting cells (APCs) during T cell antigen recognition. Microfabricated platforms have made great contributions to our understanding of the assembly dynamics and functional roles of the T cell synapses over the last decade. Here, we review three different types of microfabricated platforms developed to modulate and monitor the T cell synapse assembly. Firstly, multi-protein micropatterned surfaces presenting key ligands for T cell activation that can modulate the spatial distribution of receptors/signaling molecules in T cell synapses are described. Secondly, micropatterned supported bilayers that can modulate the dynamics of T cell receptor (TCR) microclusters are introduced. Lastly, T-APC pair arrays that allow for improved fluorescence live cell imaging are discussed. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2013, 5:67–74. doi: 10.1002/wnan.1182
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