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Meeting Highlights

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Poster Award Winners from "Visualizing Immune System Complexity"

15 May 2009

Nancy R. Gough

Science Signaling sponsored a poster competition at the EMBO workshop, "Visualizing Immune System Complexity," 15-17 January 2009. Co-organizer Michael L. Dustin (Skirball Institute, NY) provided a Meeting Report with highlights from the meeting (1). This meeting was organized to follow the "3rd Luminy Advanced Course in Immunology," which provided instruction and hands-on experience for students from around the world.

The meeting was organized such that theoretical approaches to understanding the immune system were presented first and the talks proceeded from the nano- and molecular scale to the cellular level to the tissue level and finally the entire organism. In addition to posters, there were a mixture of longer talks by senior investigators and shorter talks selected from the poster submissions, which were mostly presented by more junior scientists. The meeting covered a very broad range of topics in immunology with talks highlighting the dynamics of molecular complexes in cells to the movement of immune cells in the body and covered cells in both the adaptive and innate immune system. Approaches to understanding the immune systems were presented by computational biologists and those using modeling, those studying the interaction between cells and cellular responses in vitro, as well as those applying the latest imaging techniques to study immune cells in vivo. Although many different approaches and methodologies were presented, an recurrent them was the application of live-cell imaging in vitro and in vivo, which is revealing how dynamic the immune system is at the molecular level, as well as at the cellular and tissue levels.

The editors of Science Signaling would like to extend congratulations to the poster award winners. These young scientists submitted poster presentations that were selected by the scientific committee to present as short talks. Of the more than 50 posters submitted, nine were selected for short talks and three students were selected to win the competition sponsored by Science Signaling.

Stephane Oddos, a student in Dan Davis's lab at the Imperial College of London, was the first place winner for his presentation describing high-speed high-resolution imaging of intercellular immune synapses. By combining optical tweezers with confocal microscopy, they examined natural killer cell immune synapses and T cell immune synapses. On the NK cells, they observed long filopodial-like extensions containing the activating receptor KIR. At the T cell immune synapse, they observed the dynamic movement of proteins at the center of the immune synapse and found spatial segregation of microclusters of signaling molecules. His work was presented in the session entitled "Visualizing the Complexity at the Cellular Level (II)."

Rachel Evans, a student in Nancy Hogg's lab at the London Research Institute, won second place for her work on signaling by the integrin LFA-1 in migrating T cells. With confocal microscopy and immunofluorescence and biochemical and siRNA assays, they showed that LFA-1 and the kinases ZAP-70 and Lck associate and are involved in T cell migration. Her work was presented in the session "Visualizing Immune System Complexity at the Molecular Level (II)."

Stefanie Siegert, a student in Sanjiv Luther's lab at the University of Lausanne, won third place for her work in reconstructing a lymph node in vitro. They have created an immortalized mouse T zone reticular cell line and have grown these cells in a collagen-containing sponge where the cells form a characteristic reticular network. The goal is to have an ex vivo experimental system in which immune cells can be introduced and exposed to various conditions and then more easily monitored than can be done in vivo. For example, T cells and dendritic cells could be introduced into this in vitro lymph node to study T cell priming events. Her work was presented in the session entitled "Visualizing Immune System Complexity in the Whole Organism."

  1. M. L. Dustin, Visualizing Immune System Complexity. Sci. Signal. 2, mr4 (2009). [Abstract] [Full Text]
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