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Ready for T

CD45 protein is excluded from tips of T cell surface membrane prior to meeting antigens

21 July 2021

Ready for T

Under attack, our immune system’s T cells prepare to receive an antigen – a chemical fingerprint they’ll use to recognise a pathogen – so they have to be ready. Using expansion microscopy to swell tiny biological details, here scientists capture the T-cell’s microvilli – tiny hair-like structures bristling out from the T-cells’ membranes (shown here in cross-section). Researchers believe the microvilli brush against the antigen, helping to activate a T-cell and awaken the immune response. Molecules moving into and out of the microvilli’s tips, (highlighted in purple, green and yellow) may help to prepare the T-cell for receiving the antigen. Understanding these early steps help scientists discover how some pathogens avoid discovery, or develop new therapies to help those with weakened immune systems.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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