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Immunity. 2008 Feb;28(2):171-82. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2007.12.018.

The structural dynamics and energetics of an immunodominant T cell receptor are programmed by its Vbeta domain.

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MRC Human Immunology Unit, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.


Immunodominant and public T cell receptor (TCR) usage is relatively common in many viral diseases yet surprising in the context of the large naive TCR repertoire. We examined the highly conserved Vbeta17:Valpha10.2 JM22 T cell response to the influenza matrix peptide (58-66)-HLA-A*0201 (HLA-A2-flu) through extensive kinetic, thermodynamic, and structural analyses. We found several conformational adjustments that accompany JM22-HLA-A2-flu binding and identified a binding "hotspot" within the Vbeta domain of the TCR. Within this hotspot, key germline-encoded CDR1 and CDR2 loop residues and a crucial but commonly coded residue in the hypervariable region of CDR3 provide the basis for the substantial bias in the selection of the germline-encoded Vbeta17 domain. The chances of having a substantial number of T cells in the naive repertoire that have HLA-A2-flu-specific Vbeta17 receptors may consequently be relatively high, thus explaining the immunodominant usage of this clonotype.

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