Endocytic network of human dendritic cell upon T cell recognition
T cell mitochondria (orange) shaped by cytoskeleton (green) next to nucleus (blue).

Reorganization and Remodelling

of immune cells

to communicate an effective immune response

During an infection immune cells have a short period of time to orchestrate an adequate immune response. On top of that, research has shown that immune cells spend only a short time in each others vicinity. To ensure rapid and efficient communication, antigen-presenting cells and T cells have developed a unique cell-cell interface that supports rapid and efficient delivery of messages upon cell-cell interaction.

At ECResearchlab we use multifarious state-of-the-art microscopy techniques to study the molecular mechanisms behind effective cell-cell communication and found that cognate immune cell-cell interaction drives remodelling and reorganisation of:

(1) the late and recycling endocytic compartment to effectively initiate anti-viral responses

(2) the nanoscaled organization of T cell receptors at the cell-cell interface to enable effective T cell activation

(3) mitochondrial localization, shape and function, determining the amplitude of a T cell's response. 

(4) the plasmamembrane lipid content and ESCRT protein composition at the cell-cell interface to generate a protective (high affinity) antibody response.

Currently, we are targeting the various molecular mechanisms responsible for this T cell remodelling with the aim to be able to shape the response of

(a) regulatory T cell during transplantation, and

(b) boost helper T cells during vaccination of elderly.

Ageing of the immune system is characterised by a progressive deterioration of the endocytic compartment in immune cells which is accompanied by a loss of immunity. However, the mechanism underlying this causal relationship is still elusive. Early research results indicate that T cells from elderly are less efficiently able to adapt and remodel upon cognate interaction. Future work will focus on elucidating changes in T cell's cytoskeletal and endocytic compartment that are responsible for age-related immunodeficiency. 

Clusters of T cell receptor molecules
at the site of cell-cell communication.
Quantitative BioImaging
06 Jan. 2020
Official launch 
17 Jan. 2020


International Society of Extracellular Vesicles 2020
19 Mar. 2020 


Single-cell glycolytic activity regulates membrane tension and HIV-1 fusion.


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Ewoud Compeer@The University of Oxford