Antigen-induced T cell arrest: the role of membrane tension

Melanie Chabaud has been awarded a Long-Term Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) to investigate the molecular events leading to T cell arrest.

T cells constantly migrate through the peripheral lymphoid organs, briefly pausing to sample the antigenic peptides presented by antigen-presenting cells. Long-lasting interactions with antigen presenting cells, resulting in sustained signalling, is required to generate a robust immune response. But what makes them stop and what happens when they do?

Melanie believes that increased membrane tension in T cells triggers the critical events leading to T cell arrest, including reorganisation of the cytoskeleton and initiation of signalling cascades. Using purpose-built microchambers, she is able to observe T cells under the microscope as they recognise their target antigen and then stop. She can also observe the actin cytoskeleton remodelling and other changes at the molecular level.

After completing her PhD at the Institut Curie in Paris – where she studied dendritic cell migration in the group of Ana-Maria Lennon-Dumenil – Melanie joined the Gaus lab at Single Molecule Science in 2015, funded by a UNSW Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship.

HFSP supports innovative research at the frontiers of the life sciences. This year, they awarded 69 Long-Term Fellowships to recipients from over 50 different countries, out of almost 700 applications. With this three-year fellowship, the HFSP intend to: “Encourage early-career scientists to broaden their research skills by moving into new areas of study while working in a new country.”

Read more about Human Frontier Science Program here.

Content courtesy of Sue Lui, first published on UNSW’s Single Molecule Science website: