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Immunology and Infection

Assessment of the Synaptic Interface of Primary Human T Cells from Peripheral Blood and Lymphoid Tissue

Published: July 30th, 2018



1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Thomas Jefferson University, 2Department of Microbiology and Institute for Immunology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 3Department of Medicine Huddinge, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, 4Departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Medical Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University

The protocol describes a technique to study the ability of primary polyclonal human T cells to form synaptic interfaces using planar lipid bilayers. We use this technique to show the differential synapse formation capability of human primary T cells derived from lymph nodes and peripheral blood.

The current understanding of the dynamics and structural features of T-cell synaptic interfaces has been largely determined through the use of glass-supported planar bilayers and in vitro-derived T-cell clones or lines1,2,3,4. How these findings apply to the primary human T cells isolated from blood or lymphoid tissues is not known, partly due to significant difficulties in obtaining a sufficient number of cells for analysis5. Here we address this through the development of a technique exploiting multichannel flow slides to build planar lipid bilayers containing activating and adhesion molecules. The low height of the flow slides promotes rapid cell sedimentation in order to synchronize cell:bilayer attachment, thereby allowing researchers to study the dynamic of the synaptic interface formation and the kinetics of the granules release. We apply this approach to analyze the synaptic interface of as few as 104 to 105 primary cryopreserved T cells isolated from lymph nodes (LN) and peripheral blood (PB). The results reveal that the novel planar lipid bilayer technique enables the study of the biophysical properties of primary human T cells derived from blood and tissues in the context of health and disease.

Scientific knowledge of the structural features of T-cell immune synapses and their link to the functional activity of T cells has been generated primarily from the study of cell lines and clones derived from PB. To what degree these findings relate to primary T cells obtained from blood or human lymphoid tissues remains unclear, as the synaptic interfaces of T cells residing in lymphoid and other tissues have not been analyzed thus far. Importantly, emerging data suggest that tissue-resident and lymphoid-organ-derived T cells may have significant differences in their phenotype and functional activity compared to those in PB6,

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This study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants, and blood and lymph node samples were acquired with the approval of the Institutional Review Board at the University of Pennsylvania (IRB#809316, IRB# 815056). All human subjects were adults. Cord blood samples were kindly provided by Labor and Delivery of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Thomas Jefferson University. All samples were de-identified.

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First, we compared the structure of the synaptic interface formed by activated cord-blood-derived CD8+ T cells exposed to lipid bilayers built either in traditional large-scale flow cell systems (see the Table of Materials for details)1,2,3,4 or in multichannel flow slides. The bilayers contained fluorescent-labeled anti-CD3 and .......

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The novel technique described here utilizes similar reagents required to build planar bilayers in the conventional flow cell5 and can be successfully applied to perform the imaging of primary human T cell–bilayer interfaces3,4,15. The technique offers a significant reduction in the fluorescent molecules usage and requires 10–20x fewer T cells as compared to a flow cell system.......

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This work was supported by the R01AI118694 NIH grant to Michael R. Betts, which includes sub-award 566950 to Yuri Sykulev. We thank the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Bioimaging Shared Resource for their excellent support.


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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
CD4 T cell isolation kit, human Miltenyl Biotec 130-096-533
CD8 T cells Isolation Kit, human Miltenyl Biotec 130-096-495
DOPC Avanti Polar Lipids 850375C
DOGS NTA Avanti Polar Lipids 790528C
Biotinyl Cap PE Avanti Polar Lipids 870273C
Human Serum Albumin Octapharma USA NDC 68982-643-01
sticky-Slide VI 0.4 ibidi 80608
Coverslips for sticky-Slides ibidi 10812
Bioptech FCS2 Chamber Bioptech 060319-2-03
anti-CD3 antibody Thermo Fisher Scientific 16-0037-81 OKT3 clone, hybridoma cells are available from ATCC
anti- CD28 antibody Genetex GTX14664 9.3 clone
Casein Sigma C5890
Biotin-PEO4-NHS Thermo Fisher Scientific 21329
DMSO Sigma D2650-5
Alexa Fluor 488 protein labeling kit with column for labeled protein purification Thermo Fisher Scientific A10235
Alexa Fluor 568 protein labeling kit with column for labeled protein purification Thermo Fisher Scientific A10238
Amersham Cy5 NHS Ester GE Life Science PA15101
pMT/V5-His A, B, C Drosophila Expression Vectors Thermo Fisher Scientific V412020
pcopneo, G418 Drosophila expression vector for positive selection ATCC 37409
Serum free Drosophial media Insect-XPRESS Lonza 12-730Q
Hybridoma YN1/1.7.4 ATCC CRL1878 The hybridoma secrets antibody against ICAM-1.
Cyanogen bromide-activated-Sepharose 4B Sigma-Aldrich C9142 Utilized for preparation of Sepharose with covelently bound anti-ICAM antibody.
MasterFlex tangential flow concentrator Cole-Parmer 77601-60 7592-40 Used for ICAM-1 containing supernatant concentration and dialysis of ICAM-1 containing supernant
Centramate Lab Tangential Flow Systems Pall Laboratory FS002K10 OS010T12 FS005K10 Used for ICAM-1 containing supernatant concentration and dialysis of ICAM-1 containing supernant
Ni-NTA Agarose QIAGEN 30210
Dialysis tubing Spectra/Por 131384
Papain from papaya latex Sigma P3125
mouse anti-human antibody against CD107a BD Bioscences 555798 Clone H4A3
Ansell Natural Blue Gloves Fisher Scientific 19-014-539
Nalgene Polypropylene Scissor-Type Forceps Thermo Fisher Scientific 6320-0010
Streptavidin ProZyme SA10
Confocal microscope Nikon Nikon TiE inverted microscope equipped with PFS for long-term image stability control, 60x oil objectives, 4 lasers with excitation lines at 405, 458, 488, 514, 561, and 640 nm, 2 GaAsP detectors and 2 high sensitivity PMTs, DIC transmitted light, Programmable X,Y,Z stage for multiple positions and stitching of large areas, time lapse functions, Tokai-Hit temperature and CO2-controlled chamber for live imaging, and anti-vibration isolation table
TIRF microscope Andor Andor Revolution XD system equipped with Nikon TIRF-E illuminator, Lasers with 405,488,561 and 640 lines, DIC transmitted light, Yokogawa CSU-X1 spinning disk head for confocal imaging, 100/1.49 NA objective, Andor iXon X3 EM-CCD camera, objective heater, and a piezoelectric motorized stage with Perfect Focus System (PFS)
MetaMorph Premier Image Analysis Software Molecular devices

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