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Nature. 1987 Jun 25-Jul 1;327(6124):713-5.

Identification of the T-cell and Ia contact residues of a T-cell antigenic epitope.


The precise molecular structure of the antigenic determinant recognized by the T-cell receptor of the CD4-positive cell has not been completely resolved. A major advance in our understanding of this issue has been made by our demonstration of a direct association between an immunogenic peptide and a purified Ia molecule. The most likely and economical hypothesis is that antigen binds directly to an Ia molecule creating the antigenic determinant and that this antigen-Ia complex is recognized by the T-cell receptor. We examined in detail a determinant of hen egg-white lysozyme (HEL) contained in the tryptic fragment HEL(46-61), recognized by T cells in H-2k strains of mice. This peptide binds with a Kd of approximately 3 microM to I-Ak molecules. We have already ascertained that (1) the 10-mer HEL(52-61) is the shortest stimulatory peptide; (2) the Leu56 residue, the only residue different from mouse lysozyme, is responsible for the immunogenicity; (3) the Leu56 and Tyr53 residues are critical for recognition by the T-cell receptor and (4) HEL(46-61) generates multiple determinants when it associated with the I-Ak molecule. If antigen and Ia interact, the antigen must have two features: it must bind to an Ia molecule and also interact with the T-cell receptor. The two sites do not appear to be laterally separable in this peptide and are therefore probably composed of distinct but interspersed amino-acid residues. We have now identified the three residues of HEL(52-61) that contact the T-cell receptor and three other residues that contact the I-Ak molecule. From modelling studies we also propose that HEL(52-61) assumes an alpha-helical conformation as it is bound to I-Ak and recognized by the T-cell receptor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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