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Supramolecular clusters at the immunological synapse provide a mechanism for structuring complex communication networks between cells of the immune system. Regulating intra- and intercellular trafficking of proteins and lipids to and from the immunological synapse provides an additional level of complexity in determining the functional outcome of immune cell interactions. An emergent principle is that molecules requiring tightly regulated cell surface expression, e.g. negative regulators of cell activation or molecules promoting cytotoxicity, are trafficked to the immunological synapse from intracellular secretory as required lysosomes. Many molecules required for the early stages of the intercellular communication are already present at the cell surface, sometimes in lipid rafts, and are rapidly translocated laterally to the intercellular contact. Our understanding of these events critically depends on utilizing appropriate technologies for probing supramolecular recognition in live cells. Thus, we also present here a critical discussion of the technologies used to study lipid rafts and, more broadly, a map of the spatial and temporal dimensions covered by current live cell physical techniques, highlighting where advances are needed to exceed current spatial and temporal boundaries.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





651 - 661


Animals, Cytoplasmic Vesicles, Humans, Killer Cells, Natural, Membrane Microdomains, Membrane Proteins, Protein Transport, T-Lymphocytes