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Eur J Immunol. 1997 Jan;27(1):178-82.

Human leukocyte antigen phenotype imposes complex constraints on the antigen-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte repertoire.

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Queensland Institute of Medical Research, The Bancroft Centre, Brisbane, Australia.


The memory response to the immunodominant Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) epitope FLRGRAYGL, which associates with HLA B8, is exceptionally restricted, being dominated by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) with a single, public T cell receptor (TCR). CTL clones that express this receptor fortuitously cross-react with the alloantigen HLA B44. However, of the two major subtypes of this HLA, B*4402 and B*4403, that differ by a single amino acid, only the former is recognized by these mature CTL clones. Individuals heterozygous for HLA B8 and B*4402 use alternative TCR for the EBV determinant since the dominant TCR is potentially self-reactive. We now demonstrate that this clonotype is also essentially absent from the repertoire of CTL directed against the viral epitope in seven from seven unrelated individuals heterozygous for HLA B8 and B*4403. Thus immune tolerance of these CTL recognizing HLA B*4402 is associated with expression of either B*4402 or B*4403. This suggests that tolerance in the human T cell compartment requires a lower threshold of recognition than for effector function, thus providing a buffer zone minimizing the risk of autoimmunity. These data also illustrate the potential for non-restricting HLA molecules to bias dramatically the T cell repertoire used for specific immune responses. Such influences may be the basis of the "protective" effects of certain HLA alleles in susceptibility to autoimmune disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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