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The immunological synapse is a molecular hub that facilitates the delivery of three activation signals, namely antigen, costimulation/corepression and cytokines, from antigen-presenting cells (APC) to T cells. T cells release a fourth class of signaling entities, trans-synaptic vesicles (tSV), to mediate bidirectional communication. Here we present bead-supported lipid bilayers (BSLB) as versatile synthetic APCs to capture, characterize and advance the understanding of tSV biogenesis. Specifically, the integration of juxtacrine signals, such as CD40 and antigen, results in the adaptive tailoring and release of tSV, which differ in size, yields and immune receptor cargo compared with steadily released extracellular vesicles (EVs). Focusing on CD40L+ tSV as model effectors, we show that PD-L1 trans-presentation together with TSG101, ADAM10 and CD81 are key in determining CD40L vesicular release. Lastly, we find greater RNA-binding protein and microRNA content in tSV compared with EVs, supporting the specialized role of tSV as intercellular messengers.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





CD40 Ligand, Extracellular Vesicles, Immunological Synapses, Synaptic Vesicles, T-Lymphocytes