Send to

Choose Destination
Structure. 1997 Oct 15;5(10):1385-96.

The class II MHC protein HLA-DR1 in complex with an endogenous peptide: implications for the structural basis of the specificity of peptide binding.

Author information

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21210, USA.



Class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins are cell surface glycoproteins that bind peptides and present them to T cells as part of the mechanism for detecting and responding to foreign material in the body. The peptide-binding activity exhibits allele-specific preferences for particular sidechains at some positions, although the structural basis of these preferences is not understood in detail. We have determined the 2.45 A crystal structure of the human class II MHC protein HLA-DR1 in complex with the tight binding endogenous peptide A2 (103-117) in order to discover peptide-MHC interactions that are important in determining the binding motif and to investigate conformational constraints on the bound peptide.


The bound peptide adopts a polyproline II-like conformation and places several sidechains within pockets in the binding site. Bound water molecules mediate MHC-peptide contacts at several sites. A tryptophan residue from the beta 2 'lower' domain of HLA-DR1 was found to project into a pocket underneath the peptide-binding domain and may be important in modulating interdomain interactions in MHC proteins.


The peptide-binding motif of HLA-DR1 includes an aromatic residue at position +1, an arginine residue at position +2, and a small residue at position +6 (where the numbering refers to the normal MHC class II convention); these preferences can be understood in light of interactions observed in the peptide-MHC complex. Comparison of the structure with that of another MHC-peptide complex shows that completely different peptide sequences bind in essentially the same conformation and are accommodated with only minimal rearrangement of HLA-DR1 residues. Small conformational differences that are observed appear to be important in interactions with other proteins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center