Changes in the clustering of surface receptors modulate cell responses to ligands. Hence, global measures of receptor clustering can be useful for characterizing cell states. Using T cell receptor for antigen as an example, we show that k-space image correlation spectroscopy of quantum dots blinking detects T cell receptor clusters on a scale of tens of nanometers and reports changes in clustering after T cell activation. Our results offer a general approach to the global analysis of lateral organization and receptor clustering in single cells, and can thus be applied when the cell type of interest is rare.
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