PORTFOLIO / ILLUSTRATION / T cell migration and maturation

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Chemotactic migration and maturation of T cells in the thymus
Graphite, Adobe Photoshop CS4 & Adobe Illustrator CS4
University-level immunology students
Prof. L. Wilson-Pauwels1, M. Corrin1 | Content expert: Dr. JC. Pflucker2
The purpose of this visualization is to demonstrate the key steps of T cell development and movement in the thymus, a fundamental topic in studies of immunology. T cells, which come from the family of white blood cells, play major roles in the immune response to foreign substances in the body, such as bacteria and viruses. Before they acquire functionality, these cells undergo a maturation process that takes place in multiple regions within the thymus gland. Within these regions, the cells encounter microenvironments made up of various elements important to their development including thymic epithelial cells, ligands, and immune cells. In order to facilitate understanding of this complex process, cells are illustrated in a context-rich environment that may help stimulate interest and aid retention.
1Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto 2Department of Immunology, University of Toronto

Illustrator vector version

This illustration was originally rendered using vectors and gradient mesh in Illustrator CS4. The main purpose of the project was to develop vector skills in Illustrator. However, I decided to recreate this piece with Photoshop because I felt the original quality of what I had envisioned was lost in this vector rendition.


Sketch process

Rendering process

Bhandoola, A., H. von Boehmer, H.T. Petrie, and J.C. Zuniga Pflucker. 2007. Commitment and developmental potential of extrathymic and intrathymic T cell precursors: plenty to choose from. Immunity 26, 678-689.
Hollander, G.A. and P. Peterson. 2009. Learning to be tolerant: how T cells keep out of trouble. Journal of Internal Medicine 265: 541-561.
Leavy, O. 2008. E proteins: manning the checkpoints. Nature Reviews Immunology 368-369.
Petrie, H.T. and J.C. Zuniga-Pflucker. 2007. Zoned Out: Functional Mapping of Stromal Signaling Microenvrionments in the Thymus. Annual Review of Immunology 25: 649-79.
Takahama, Y. 2006. Journey through the thymus: stromal guides for T-cell development and selection. Nature Reviews 6: 127-135.
Zuniga-Pflucker, J.C. 2007. CD8+ T cells are kept in tune by modulating IL-7 responsiveness. Nature Immunology 8: 1027-1028.
Visual references
Kessel, R.G. and R.H. Kardon. 1979. Tissues and organs: A text-atlas of scanning electron microscopy. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, p. 72.
Krstic, R.V. 1994. Human Microscopic Anatomy: An Atlas for Students of Medicine and Biology. New York: Springer-Verlag, pp.104-113.
Sandoz. 1987. The ins and outs of lymphocyte traffic. Sandorama III: 11-15.