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Generalized Lévy walks and the role of chemokines in migration of effector CD8 T cells

Chemokines have a central role in regulating processes essential to the immune function of T cells, such as
their migration within lymphoid tissues and targeting of pathogens in sites of inflammation. Here we track T cells using multi-photon microscopy to demonstrate that the chemokine CXCL10 enhances the ability of CD8+ T cells to control the pathogen Toxoplasma gondii in the brains of chronically infected mice. This chemokine boosts T-cell function in two different ways: it maintains the effector T-cell population in the brain and speeds up the average migration speed without changing the nature of the walk statistics. Notably, these statistics are not Brownian; rather, CD8+ T-cell motility in the brain is well described by a generalizedLévy walk. According to our model, this unexpected feature enables T cells to find rare targets with more than an order of magnitude more efficiency than Brownian random walkers. Thus, CD8+ T-cell behaviour is similar to Lévy strategies reported in organisms ranging from mussels to marine predators and monkeys, and CXCL10 aids T cells in shortening the average time taken to find rare targets.

Harris TH, Banigan EJ, Christian DA, Konradt C, Tait Wojno ED, Norose K, Wilson EH, John B, Weninger W, Luster AD, Liu AJ, Hunter CA.

Nature, 486:545-8, 2012

Date: 2012