Assessing in vitro and in vivo Trogocytosis By Murine CD4+ T cells

Jim Reed, Scott A. Wetzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recognition of antigens by lymphocytes (B, T, and NK) on the surface of an antigen-presenting cell (APC) leads to lymphocyte activation and the formation of an immunological synapse between the lymphocyte and the APC. At the immunological synapse APC membrane and associated membrane proteins can be transferred to the lymphocyte in a process called trogocytosis. The detection of trogocytosed molecules provides insights to the activation state, antigen specificity, and effector functions and differentiation of the lymphocytes. Here we outline our protocol for identifying trogocytosis-positive CD4+ T cells in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, antigen presenting cells are surface biotinylated and pre-loaded with magnetic polystyrene beads before incubating for a short time with in vitro activated CD4+ T cell blasts (90 min) or naïve T cells (3-24 h). After T cell recovery and APC depletion by magnetic separation trogocytosis positive (trog+) cells are identified by streptavidin staining of trogocytosed, biotinylated APC membrane proteins. Their activation phenotype, effector function, and effector differentiation are subsequently analyzed by flow cytometry immediately or after subsequent incubation. Similarly, trogocytosis-positive cells can be identified and similarly analyzed by flow cytometry. Previous studies have described methods for analyzing T cell trogocytosis to identify antigen-specific cells or the antigenic epitopes recognized by the cells. With the current protocol, the effects of trogocytosis on the individual T cell or the ability of trog+ T cells to modulate the activation and function of other immune cells can be assessed over an extended period of time.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3607
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 5 2020


  • CD4 T cell
  • Cell activation
  • Cell identification
  • Flow cytometry
  • Intercellular transfer
  • Trogocytosis


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