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Mol Immunol. 2005 Mar;42(5):651-5.

Degeneracy, mimicry and crossreactivity in immune recognition.

Author information

1
Conceptual Immunology Group, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 10010 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA. cohn@salk.edu

Abstract

Degeneracy of recognition of antigen by the immune system is being used as an argument that the self-nonself discrimination cannot be a property of the specificity of its antigen-receptors, TCR and BCR, but must rely on emergent properties derived from a set of complex interactions and pathways. This essay analyzes an alternative view by showing that degeneracy and specificity are not mutually exclusive properties. The self-nonself discrimination is the sole evolutionary selection pressure for the specificity of the TCR and BCR, which can be quantitated as a "Specificity Index." Degeneracy is a non-issue for the self-nonself discrimination largely because it is a problem of chemistry, not of biology.

PMID:
15607824
DOI:
10.1016/j.molimm.2004.09.010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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