Human immunodeficiencies related to defective APC/T cell interaction

Marinos Kallikourdis, Antonella Viola, Federica Benvenuti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primary event for initiating adaptive immune responses is the encounter between T lymphocytes and antigen presenting cells (APCs) in the T cell area of secondary lymphoid organs and the formation of highly organized intercellular junctions referred to as immune synapses (IS). In vivo live-cell imaging of APC-T cell interactions combined to functional studies unveiled that T cell fate is dictated, in large part, by the stability of the initial contact. Immune cell interaction is equally important during delivery of T cell help to B cells and for the killing of target cells by cytotoxic T cells and NK cells. The critical role of contact dynamics and synapse stability on the immune response is well illustrated by human immune deficiencies in which disease pathogenesis is linked to altered adhesion or defective cross-talk between the synaptic partners. The Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS) is a severe primary immunodeficiency caused by mutations in the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASp), a scaffold that promotes actin polymerization and links TCR stimulation to T cell activation. Absence or mutations in WASp affects intercellular APC-T cell communications by interfering with multiple mechanisms on both sides of the IS. The warts, hypogammaglobulinemia, infections, and myelokathexis (WHIM) syndrome is caused by mutations in CXCR4, a chemokine receptor that in mutant form leads to impairment of APC-T cell interactions. Present evidences suggest that other recently characterized primary immune deficiencies caused by mutation in genes linked to actin cytoskeletal reorganization, such as WIP and DOCK8, may also depend on altered synapse stability. Here, we will discuss in details the mechanisms of disturbed APC-T cell interactions in WAS and WHIM. Moreover, we will summarize the evidence pointing to a compromised conjugate formation in WIP, DOCK8, and X-linked lymphoproliferative syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00433
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberAUG
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Actin cytoskeleton
  • Chemokines
  • Immune synapse
  • Immunodeficiencies
  • T cell activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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