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Immunol Cell Biol. 2001 Apr;79(2):91-100.

Cross-reactivity in T-cell antigen recognition.

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Division of Immunology and Cell Biology, John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University, Canberra.


The molecular interactions between the T-cell receptor (TCR) and peptide-MHC (pMHC) have been elucidated in recent years. Nevertheless, the fact that binding of only slightly different ligands by a TCR, or ligation of the same pMHC at different developmental stages of the T cell, can have opposing consequences, continues to pose intellectual challenges. Kinetic proofreading models, which have at their core the dissociation rates of pMHC from the TCR, are best suited to account for these observations. However, T cells can be triggered by peptides with often minimal homology to the primary immunogenic peptide. This cross-reactivity of the TCR is manifest at several levels, from positive selection of immature thymocytes to homeostasis and antigen-cross- reactive immune responses of mature peripheral T cells. The implications of the high cross-reactivity of T-cell antigen recognition for self-tolerance and T-cell memory are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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