Multiple steady states and the form of response functions to antigen in a model for the initiation of t-cell activation

Alan D. Rendall, Eduardo D. Sontag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The aim of this paper is to study the qualitative behaviour predicted by a mathematical model for the initial stage of T-cell activation. The state variables in the model are the concentrations of phosphorylation states of the T-cell receptor (TCR) complex and the phosphatase SHP-1 in the cell. It is shown that these quantities cannot approach zero and that the model possesses more than one positive steady state for certain values of the parameters. It can also exhibit damped oscillations. It is proved that the chemical concentration which represents the degree of activation of the cell, that of the maximally phosphorylated form of the TCR complex, is, in general, a non-monotone function of the activating signal. In particular, there are cases where there is a value of the dissociation constant of the ligand from the receptor which produces a maximal activation of the T cell. This suggests that mechanisms taking place in the first few minutes after activation and included in the model studied in this paper suffice to explain the optimal dissociation time seen in experiments. In this way, the results of certain simulations in the literature have been confirmed rigorously and some important features which had not previously been seen have been discovered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number170821
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 8 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Immunology
  • Multistationarity
  • T cells


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