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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2007 Oct;17(5):521-9. Epub 2007 Oct 24.

CD1 mediated T cell recognition of glycolipids.

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  • 1Division of Cell Biology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, 9420 Athena Circle, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Specialized subsets of T lymphocytes can distinguish the carbohydrate portions of microbial and self-glycolipids when they are presented by proteins in the CD1 family of antigen presenting molecules. Recent immunochemical and structural analyses indicate that the chemical composition of the presented carbohydrate, together with its precise orientation above the CD1 binding groove, determines if a particular T cell is activated. More recently, however, it has been shown that the lipid backbone of the glycolipid, buried inside the CD1 protein, also can have an impact on T cell activation. While glycolipid recognition is a relatively new category of T cell specificity, the powerful combination of microbial antigen discovery and structural biochemistry has provided great insight into the mechanism of carbohydrate recognition.

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