The immunological synapse is a highly organized complex formed at the junction between Ag-specific T cells and APCs as a prelude to cell activation. Although its exact role in modulating T cell signaling is unknown, it is commonly believed that the immunological synapse is the site of cross-talk between the T cell and APC (or target). We have examined the synapses formed by naive and memory CD4 cells during Ag-specific cognate interactions with APCs. We show that the mature immunological synapse forms more quickly during memory T cell activation. We further show that the composition of the synapse found in naive or memory cell conjugates with APCs is distinct with the tyrosine phosphatase, CD45, being a more integral component of the mature synapses formed by memory cells. Finally, we show that signaling molecules, including CD45, are preassociated in discrete, lipid-raft microdomains in resting memory cells but not in naive cells. Thus, enhanced memory cell responses may be due to intrinsic properties of signaling molecule organization.
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