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New nano device detects immune system cell signaling
Date:9/3/2008

movements and reactions of individual cells. They can record various cell behaviors by injecting different fluorescent dyes into the cells. For example, when naive T-cells are primed for an immune response, the concentration of calcium ion in their cytoplasm jumps up. So when the cytoplasm contains a dye that fluoresces when it comes into contact with calcium, it glows brightly enough to be easily detected.

The surprise discovery of paracrine signaling was made by graduate student Shannon Faley, now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She filled up a nanophysiometer chamber with naive human T-cells and then added mature dendritic cells. She was looking for evidence of T-cell activation when the T-cells and dendritic cells were trapped in the same well and came into contact. This contact is part of the process that allows dendritic cells to convey information about potentially infectious invaders to the naive T-cells, which can then begin dividing to produce an army of effector T-cells custom-designed to attack the invaders.

Faley saw what she was looking for, but she also noticed something unexpected: some T-cells that were trapped in wells downstream of those with dendritic cells, which had never been in direct contact with them, were also lighting up. "My reaction when I saw them was, 'What in the world is going on?'" she says.

"When she saw this, Shannon did a very clever thing," says Wikswo. "She took one chamber and filled it with dendritic cells and took a second chamber and filled it with T-cells. Then she hooked the second chamber downstream of the first." When she did so, the T-cells in the second chamber immediately began lighting up, demonstrating that the mature dendritic cells were releasing a chemical factor that activates naive T-cells without coming into contact.

"At this point we don't know what this factor is or what its function is," says Faley. According to Unutmaz, a lo
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Contact: David F. Salisbury
david.salisbury@vanderbilt.edu
615-343-6803
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert

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