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Immunity. 2007 Mar;26(3):311-21.

T cell immunoglobulin mucin-3 crystal structure reveals a galectin-9-independent ligand-binding surface.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


The T cell immunoglobulin mucin (Tim) family of receptors regulates effector CD4(+) T cell functions and is implicated in autoimmune and allergic diseases. Tim-3 induces immunological tolerance, and engagement of the Tim-3 immunoglobulin variable (IgV) domain by galectin-9 is important for appropriate termination of T helper 1-immune responses. The 2 A crystal structure of the Tim-3 IgV domain demonstrated that four cysteines, which are invariant within the Tim family, form two noncanonical disulfide bonds, resulting in a surface not present in other immunoglobulin superfamily members. Biochemical and biophysical studies demonstrated that this unique structural feature mediates a previously unidentified galectin-9-independent binding process and suggested that this structural feature is conserved within the entire Tim family. The current work provided a graphic example of the relationship between sequence, structure, and function and suggested that the interplay between multiple Tim-3-binding activities contributes to the regulated assembly of signaling complexes required for effective Th1-mediated immunity.

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