Push, pull and sense: Forces and mechanosensing in immune cells
Arpita Upadhyaya, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, IPST, University of Maryland
The activation of lymphocytes is an essential step in the adaptive immune response. Lymphocyte activation involves the binding of specialized receptors (TCR in T cells and BCR in B cells) with antigen on the surface of antigen presenting cells. This leads to changes in cell morphology and the movement and assembly of receptors, scaffold proteins and enzymes into signaling microclusters, which are essential for immune cell activation. During this process, cells of the immune system interact with structures that possess a diverse range of physical properties. I will summarize our recent studies from a biophysical perspective that examine how T cells and B cells respond to physical cues such as stiffness, topography and ligand mobility. Specifically, I will highlight the distinct roles of the actin and microtubule cytoskeleton in the exertion of mechanical stresses that support signaling activation, microcluster assembly and receptor movement in T and B lymphocytes.