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Keywords:

  • immune synapse;
  • photoactivated localization microscopy;
  • stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy;
  • super-resolution;
  • TOCCSL;
  • two-colour coincidence detection

Summary

Results from live-cell microscopy suggest that the behaviour of isolated components of the T-cell activation machinery in vitro does not represent the reality inside cells. Understanding the cellular-scale dynamics of microcluster migration can only be accomplished by in situ observation. Developments in ‘super-resolution’ microscopy have permitted investigators to move beyond tracking the movements of individual molecules, allowing the recognition of protein islands and nanodomains present in quiescent and active T cells. Many high-resolution techniques have their own susceptibilities to artefacts, so it is important to take a multifaceted approach to confirm results. A major challenge for the future will be to integrate all the new information into a coherent model of antigen recognition and T-cell activation.