A study led by Professor Gillian Griffiths (CIMR) and published in the journal Immunity describes how specialised members of our white blood cells known as cytotoxic T cells destroy tumour and virally-infected cells. Researchers Alex Ritter, an NIH-OxCam doctoral student and Dr Yukako Asano, a post-doctoral fellow in the Griffiths lab, used state-of-the-art high-resolution 3D time-lapse multi-colour imaging, making use of both spinning disk confocal microscopy and lattice light sheet microscopy.
These techniques involve capturing slices through a cell very rapidly and compiling them together to provide the final 3D images across the whole cell. This approach provided images of the changes inside these cells that enable them to kill, with a spatial and temporal resolution not seen before. The work reveals key mechanistic steps controlling the efficiency and precision of these important serial killers in the immune system.