A comprehensive guide to study the immunological synapse using imaging flow cytometry

Andrea Michela Biolato, Liza Filali, Max Krecke, Clément Thomas, Céline Hoffmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Cytotoxic lymphocytes, such as cytotoxic T cells and natural killer (NK) cells, are instrumental in the recognition and eradication of pathogenic cells, notably those undergoing malignant transformation. Cytotoxic lymphocytes establish direct contact with cancer cells via the formation of a specialized cell-cell junction known as the lytic immunological synapse. This structure serves as a critical platform for lymphocytes to integrate surface signals from potential cancer cells and to direct their cytolytic apparatus toward the confirmed targets. Conversely, cancer cells evolve synaptic defense strategies to evade lymphocyte cytotoxicity. This chapter delineates protocols using imaging flow cytometry to examine and quantify important subcellular processes occurring within cytotoxic lymphocytes and cancer cells engaged into an immunological synapse. These processes encompass the spatial redistribution of cytoskeletal components, vesicles, organelles and cell surface molecules. We specifically describe methods to generate and select conjugates between MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells or K-562 leukemic cells and either the NK-92MI cell line or primary human NK cells. In addition, we detail procedures to evaluate the synaptic polarization of the actin cytoskeleton, CD63-positive vesicular compartments, MHC class I molecules, as well as the microtubule-organizing center in effector cells.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Cell Biology
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Publication series

NameMethods in Cell Biology
ISSN (Print)0091-679X


  • Cancer cell
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Imaging flow cytometry
  • Immunological synapse
  • Lymphocytes
  • Surface molecules
  • Vesicles


Dive into the research topics of 'A comprehensive guide to study the immunological synapse using imaging flow cytometry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this