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Immunol Res. 2011 May;50(1):39-48. doi: 10.1007/s12026-011-8204-3.

T cell recognition of weak ligands: roles of signaling, receptor number, and affinity.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


T cell recognition of antigen is a crucial aspect of the adaptive immune response. One of the most common means of pathogen immune evasion is mutation of T cell epitopes. T cell recognition of such ligands can result in a variety of outcomes including activation, apoptosis and anergy. The ability of a given T cell to respond to a specific peptide-MHC ligand is regulated by a number of factors, including the affinity, on- and off-rates and half-life of the TCR-peptide-MHC interaction. Interaction of T cells with low-potency ligands results in unique signaling patterns and requires engagement with a larger number of T cell receptors than agonist ligands. This review will address these aspects of T cell interaction with weak ligands and the ways in which these ligands have been utilized therapeutically.

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