Manipulating CD4+ T cells by optical tweezers for the initiation of cell-cell transfer of HIV-1

Gregory P. McNerney, Wolfgang Hüner, Benjamin K. Chen, Thomas R Huser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Cell-cell interactions through direct contact are very important for cellular communication and coordination-especially for immune cells. The human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1) induces immune cell interactions between CD4+ cells to shuttle between T cells via a virological synapse. A goal to understand the process of cell-cell transmission through virological synapses is to determine the cellular states that allow a chance encounter between cells to become a stable cell-cell adhesion. We demonstrate the use of optical tweezers to manipulate uninfected primary CD4+ T cells near HIV Gag-iGFP transfected Jurkat T cells to probe the determinants that induce stable adhesion. When combined with fast 4D confocal fluorescence microscopy, optical tweezers can be utilized not only to facilitate cell-cell contact, but also to simultaneously track the formation of a virological synapse, and ultimately to probe the events that precede virus transfer. HIV-1 infected T cell (green) decorated with uninfected primary T cells (red) by manipulating the primary cells with an optical tweezers system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-223
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biophotonics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Cell-cell transmission
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • HIV-1
  • Micromanipulation
  • Optical tweezers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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