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Semin Immunol. 1999 Dec;11(6):417-22.

Evaluating peptide repertoires within the context of thymocyte development.

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Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


The process of antigen presentation by MHC molecules allows T cells to sample the proteins expressed within a particular cell. This sampling is in the form of short peptides bound within the grooves of MHC molecules displayed on the surface of cells. In the context of immune surveillance, this presentation allows the identification of infected cells by displaying peptides originating from foreign proteins within the cell. However, MHC-bound peptides play additional roles beyond serving as antigenic stimuli during an immune response. In fact, it has become clear that MHC-bound peptides derived from self proteins are critically involved in the development of T cells during selective events in the thymus. In this review we will discuss the nature of the population of MHC-bound peptides as it relates to thymocyte development, with particular emphasis on the recent finding that peptide-MHC complexes present at low levels can drive the positive selection of thymocytes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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