Tasnim, H; Fricke, GM; Byrum, JR; Sotiris, JO; Cannon, JL; Moses, ME
T cells play a vital role in eliminating pathogenic infections. To activate, naive T cells search lymph nodes (LNs) for dendritic cells (DCs). Positioning and movement of T cells in LNs is influenced by chemokines including CCL21 as well as multiple cell types and structures in the LNs. Previous studies have suggested that T cell positioning facilitates DC colocalization leading to T:DC interaction. Despite the influence chemical signals, cells, and structures can have on naive T cell positioning, relatively few studies have used quantitative measures to directly compare T cell interactions with key cell types. Here, we use Pearson correlation coefficient (PCC) and normalized mutual information (NMI) to quantify the extent to which naive T cells spatially associate with DCs, fibroblastic reticular cells (FRCs), and blood vessels in LNs. We measure spatial associations in physiologically relevant regions. We find that T cells are more spatially associated with FRCs than with their ultimate targets, DCs. We also investigated the role of a key motility chemokine receptor, CCR7, on T cell colocalization with DCs. We find that CCR7 deficiency does not decrease naive T cell association with DCs, in fact, CCR7(-/-) T cells show slightly higher DC association compared with wild type T cells. By revealing these associations, we gain insights into factors that drive T cell localization, potentially affecting the timing of productive T: DC interactions and T cell activation.