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J Exp Med. 1997 Oct 20;186(8):1333-45.

Analysis of the expression of peptide-major histocompatibility complexes using high affinity soluble divalent T cell receptors.

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Johns Hopkins University, Department of Pathology and Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Understanding the regulation of cell surface expression of specific peptide-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) complexes is hindered by the lack of direct quantitative analyses of specific peptide-MHC complexes. We have developed a direct quantitative biochemical approach by engineering soluble divalent T cell receptor analogues (TCR-Ig) that have high affinity for their cognate peptide-MHC ligands. The generality of this approach was demonstrated by specific staining of peptide-pulsed cells with two different TCR-Ig complexes: one specific for the murine alloantigen 2C, and one specific for a viral peptide from human T lymphocyte virus-1 presented by human histocompatibility leukocyte antigens-A2. Further, using 2C TCR- Ig, a more detailed analysis of the interaction with cognate peptide-MHC complexes revealed several interesting findings. Soluble divalent 2C TCR-Ig detected significant changes in the level of specific antigenic-peptide MHC cell surface expression in cells treated with gamma-interferon (gamma-IFN). Interestingly, the effects of gamma-IFN on expression of specific peptide-MHC complexes recognized by 2C TCR-Ig were distinct from its effects on total H-2 Ld expression; thus, lower doses of gamma-IFN were required to increase expression of cell surface class I MHC complexes than were required for upregulation of expression of specific peptide-MHC complexes. Analysis of the binding of 2C TCR-Ig for specific peptide-MHC ligands unexpectedly revealed that the affinity of the 2C TCR-Ig for the naturally occurring alloreactive, putatively, negatively selecting, complex, dEV-8-H-2 Kbm3, is very low, weaker than 71 microM. The affinity of the 2C TCR for the other naturally occurring, negatively selecting, alloreactive complex, p2Ca-H-2 Ld, is approximately 1000-fold higher. Thus, negatively selecting peptide-MHC complexes do not necessarily have intrinsically high affinity for cognate TCR. These results, uniquely revealed by this analysis, indicate the importance of using high affinity biologically relevant cognates, such as soluble divalent TCR, in furthering our understanding of immune responses.

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