Modes and mechanisms of T cell motility: roles for confinement and Myosin-IIA. T cells are charged with surveying tissues for evidence of their cognate foreign antigens. Subsequently, they must navigate to effector sites, which they enter through the process of trans-endothelial migration (TEM). During interstitial migration, T cells migrate according to one of two modes that are distinguished by the strength and sequence of adhesions and the requirement for Myosin-IIA. In contrast during TEM, T cells require Myosin-IIA for the final process of pushing their nucleus through the endothelium. A generalized model emerges with dual roles for Myosin-IIA: This motor protein acts like a tensioning or expansion spring, transmitting force across the cell cortex to sites of surface contact and also optimizing the frictional coupling with substrata by modulating the surface area of the contact. The phosphorylation and deactivation of this motor following TCR engagement can allow T cells to rapidly alter the degree to which they adhere to surfaces and to switch to a mode of interaction with surfaces that is more conducive to forming a synapse with an antigen-presenting cell.
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