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The scanning of surrounding tissues by T lymphocytes to detect cognate antigens requires high speed, sensitivity and specificity. T-cell receptor (TCR) co-receptors such as CD8 increase detection performance, but the exact mechanism remains incompletely understood. Here, we used a laminar flow chamber to measure at the single molecule level the kinetics of bond formation and rupture between TCR- transfected CD8+ and CD8- Jurkat cells and surfaces coated with five peptide-exposing major histocompatibility antigens (pMHCs) of varying activating power. We also used interference reflection microscopy to image the spreading of these cells dropped on pMHC-exposing surfaces. CD8 did not influence the TCR-pMHC interaction during the first few seconds following cell surface encounter, but it promoted the subsequent spreading responses, suggesting that CD8 was involved in early activation rather than binding. Further, the rate and extent of spreading, but not the lag between contact and spreading initiation, depended on the pMHC. Elucidating T-lymphocyte detection strategy may help unravel underlying signaling networks.

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2D binding kinetics, T-cell receptor, T-cell triggering, interference reflection microscopy, laminar flow chamber, reflection interference contrast microscopy, spreading, CD8 Antigens, Humans, Microscopy, Interference, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell