Immune cells are highly dynamic and able to migrate through environments with diverse biochemical and mechanical compositions. Their migration has classically been defined as amoeboid under the assumption that it is integrin independent. Here, we show that activated primary Th1 T cells require both confinement and extracellular matrix proteins to migrate efficiently. This migration is mediated through small and dynamic focal adhesions that are composed of the same proteins associated with canonical mesenchymal cell focal adhesions, such as integrins, talin, and vinculin. These focal adhesions, furthermore, localize to sites of contractile traction stresses, enabling T cells to pull themselves through confined spaces. Finally, we show that Th1 T cells preferentially follow tracks of other T cells, suggesting that these adhesions modify the extracellular matrix to provide additional environmental guidance cues. These results demonstrate not only that the boundaries between amoeboid and mesenchymal migration modes are ambiguous, but that integrin-mediated focal adhesions play a key role in T cell motility.

This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at
You do not currently have access to this content.