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Nat Immunol. 2003 Mar;4(3):241-7. Epub 2003 Feb 3.

CDR3 loop flexibility contributes to the degeneracy of TCR recognition.

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Laboratoire de Cristallographie et Cristallogenèse des Protéines, Institut de Biologie Structurale J.-P. Ebel, CEA-CNRS-UJF, 41 rue Jules Horowitz, F-38027 Grenoble Cedex 1, France.


T cell receptor (TCR) binding degeneracy lies at the heart of several physiological and pathological phenomena, yet its structural basis is poorly understood. We determined the crystal structure of a complex involving the BM3.3 TCR and an octapeptide (VSV8) bound to the H-2K(b) major histocompatibility complex molecule at a 2.7 A resolution, and compared it with the BM3.3 TCR bound to the H-2K(b) molecule loaded with a peptide that has no primary sequence identity with VSV8. Comparison of these structures showed that the BM3.3 TCR complementarity-determining region (CDR) 3alpha could undergo rearrangements to adapt to structurally different peptide residues. Therefore, CDR3 loop flexibility helps explain TCR binding cross-reactivity.

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