Biophysics of Killing – Theory and Experiment
Heiko Rieger (Saarland University)
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells are the main cytotoxic killer cells of the human body to eliminate pathogen-infected or tumorigenic cells. Various processes are involved in a successful killing event: activation of the killer cell, migration and search for the target, formation of a synapse and polarization upon contact with the target, transport of cytotoxic agents towards the synapse, and finally elimination of the target via necrosis or apoptosis. In this talk I will review various biophysical aspects of killing that were studied in collaboration with experimental groups from biology and medicine. Topics include the analysis of search strategies of migrating killer cells; the mechanistic understanding of the molecular motor driven cytoskeleton rotation towards the synapse during polarization; the efficiency of the spatial organization of the cytoskeleton for search problems occurring in intra-cellular cargo transport; and the stochastic analysis of different killing strategies via inducing necrosis or apoptosis.