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Nature. 1988 Aug 4;334(6181):395-402.

T-cell antigen receptor genes and T-cell recognition.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University Medical School, California 94305-5402.

Erratum in

  • Nature 1988 Oct 20;335(6192):744.


The four distinct T-cell antigen receptor polypeptides (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) form two different heterodimers (alpha:beta and gamma:delta) that are very similar to immunoglobulins in primary sequence, gene organization and modes of rearrangement. Whereas antibodies have both soluble and membrane forms that can bind to antigens alone, T-cell receptors exist only on cell surfaces and recognize antigen fragments only when they are embedded in major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. Patterns of diversity in T-cell receptor genes together with structural features of immunoglobulin and MHC molecules suggest a model for how this recognition might occur. This view of T-cell recognition has implications for how the receptors might be selected in the thymus and how they (and immunoglobulins) may have arisen during evolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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