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Antigen presentation and cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs): elucidating a common roadblock for students

By Marcia Hesser

Kennesaw State University

Active learning resource for pre-Nursing anatomy and physiology lecture explaining antigen presentation to CTLs and how the CTLs recognize and destroy the pathogen using Biointeractive animations and clicker questions.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group HHMI BioInteractive A&P FMN (2019)

Version 1.0 - published on 21 May 2020 doi:10.25334/HVJM-JW96 - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International according to these terms

Adapted from: Targeting Infected Cells for Immune Defense v 1.0



Anatomy and physiology students historically have a difficult time learning the complicated inter-workings of the immune system.  The following is an in-class learning activity designed to utilize 50 minutes of face-to-face (or synchronous online) lecture for pre-Nursing students at a 2- or 4-year university.  The activity is targeted to one aspect of the adaptive immune system, CTL antigen presentation.  The goal is to organize the material into smaller, more manageable sections using 3 short clips from a pre-existing HHMI Biointeractive animation (adapted specifically for this activity), followed by targeted student discussion (think/pair/share).  A student response system (such as clickers) is also a feature of this activity that incorporates questions designed to gauge understanding in real-time.  Applications to the real-world using a simple case study and medical research offer the students a chance to think critically and an engaging connection to personal interests.  After this activity students will:

1. Briefly describe how nonself viral proteins are incorporated into MHC class I receptors of an infected self cell.

2. Outline the steps required for a CTL to recognize a nonself MHC class I.

3. Connect the roles of antigen presenting cells and helper T cells in CTL activation.

4. Describe how a CTL destroys an identified nonself, viral-infected cell.


Cite this work


HHMI BioInteractive A&P FMN (2019)

HHMI BioInteractive A&P FMN (2019) group image

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