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Nat Immunol. 2001 Mar;2(3):229-34.

Efficient T cell activation requires an optimal dwell-time of interaction between the TCR and the pMHC complex.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Cytotoxic T cell (CTL) activation by antigen requires the specific detection of peptide-major histocompatibility class I (pMHC) molecules on the target-cell surface by the T cell receptor (TCR). We examined the effect of mutations in the antigen-binding site of a Kb-restricted TCR on T cell activation, antigen binding and dissociation from antigen.These parameters were also examined for variants derived from a Kd-restricted peptide that was recognized by a CTL clone. Using these two independent systems, we show that T cell activation can be impaired by mutations that either decrease or increase the binding half-life of the TCR-pMHC interaction. Our data indicate that efficient T cell activation occurs within an optimal dwell-time range of TCR-pMHC interaction. This restricted dwell-time range is consistent with the exclusion of either extremely low or high affinity T cells from the expanded population during immune responses.

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