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  1. Lavrik, Inna (Ed.)

    T cells form transient cell-to-cell contacts with antigen presenting cells (APCs) to facilitate surface interrogation by membrane bound T cell receptors (TCRs). Upon recognition of molecular signatures (antigen) of pathogen, T cells may initiate an adaptive immune response. The duration of the T cell/APC contact is observed to vary widely, yet it is unclear what constructive role, if any, such variations might play in immune signaling. Modeling efforts describing antigen discrimination often focus on steady-state approximations and do not account for the transient nature of cellular contacts. Within the framework of a kinetic proofreading (KP) mechanism, we develop a stochasticFirst Receptor Activation Model(FRAM) describing the likelihood that a productive immune signal is produced before the expiry of the contact. Through the use of extreme statistics, we characterize the probability that the first TCR triggering is induced by a rare agonist antigen and not by that of an abundant self-antigen. We show that defining positive immune outcomes as resilience to extreme statistics and sensitivity to rare events mitigates classic tradeoffs associated with KP. By choosing a sufficient number of KP steps, our model is able to yield single agonist sensitivity whilst remaining non-reactive to large populations of self antigen, even when self and agonist antigen are similar in dissociation rate to the TCR but differ largely in expression. Additionally, our model achieves high levels of accuracy even when agonist positive APCs encounters are rare. Finally, we discuss potential biological costs associated with high classification accuracy, particularly in challenging T cell environments.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 30, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  3. An essential ability of many cell types is to detect stimuli in the form of shallow chemical gradients. Such cues may indicate the direction that new growth should occur, or the location of a mate. Amplification of these faint signals is due to intra-cellular mechanisms, while the cue itself is generated by the noisy arrival of signalling molecules to surface bound membrane receptors. We employ a new hybrid numerical-asymptotic technique coupling matched asymptotic analysis and numerical inverse Laplace transform to rapidly and accurately solve the parabolic exterior problem describing the dynamic diffusive fluxes to receptors. We observe that equilibration occurs on long timescales, potentially limiting the usefulness of steady-state quantities for localization at practical biological timescales. We demonstrate that directional information is encoded primarily in early arrivals to the receptors, while equilibrium quantities inform on source distance. We develop a new homogenization result showing that complex receptor configurations can be replaced by a uniform effective condition. In the extreme scenario where the cell adopts the angular direction of the first impact, we show this estimate to be surprisingly accurate.

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  4. null (Ed.)
    Male and female moths communicate in complex ways to search for and to select a mate. In a process termed calling, females emit small quantities of pheromones, generating plumes that spread in the environment. Males detect the plume through their antennae and navigate toward the female. The reproductive process is marked by female choice and male–male competition, since multiple males aim to reach the female but only the first can mate with her. This provides an opportunity for female selection on male traits such as chemosensitivity to pheromone molecules and mobility. We develop a mathematical framework to investigate the overall mating likelihood, the mean first arrival time, and the quality of the first male to reach the female for four experimentally observed female calling strategies unfolding over a typical one-week mating period. We present both analytical solutions of a simplified model as well as results from agent-based numerical simulations. Our findings suggest that, by adjusting call times and the amount of released pheromone, females can optimize the mating process. In particular, shorter calling times and lower pheromone titers at onset of the mating period that gradually increase over time allow females to aim for higher-quality males while still ensuring that mating occurs by the end of the mating period. 
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  5. The T cell receptor (TCR) initiates the elimination of pathogens and tumors by T cells. To avoid damage to the host, the receptor must be capable of discriminating between wild-type and mutated self and nonself peptide ligands presented by host cells. Exactly how the TCR does this is unknown. In resting T cells, the TCR is largely unphosphorylated due to the dominance of phosphatases over the kinases expressed at the cell surface. However, when agonist peptides are presented to the TCR by major histocompatibility complex proteins expressed by antigen-presenting cells (APCs), very fast receptor triggering, i.e., TCR phosphorylation, occurs. Recent work suggests that this depends on the local exclusion of the phosphatases from regions of contact of the T cells with the APCs. Here, we developed and tested a quantitative treatment of receptor triggering reliant only on TCR dwell time in phosphatase-depleted cell contacts constrained in area by cell topography. Using the model and experimentally derived parameters, we found that ligand discrimination likely depends crucially on individual contacts being ∼200 nm in radius, matching the dimensions of the surface protrusions used by T cells to interrogate their targets. The model not only correctly predicted the relative signaling potencies of known agonists and nonagonists but also achieved this in the absence of kinetic proofreading. Our work provides a simple, quantitative, and predictive molecular framework for understanding why TCR triggering is so selective and fast and reveals that, for some receptors, cell topography likely influences signaling outcomes. 
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