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Immunity. 2010 Feb 26;32(2):163-74. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2009.11.013. Epub 2010 Feb 4.

Dependence of T cell antigen recognition on T cell receptor-peptide MHC confinement time.

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Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3RE, UK.


T cell receptor (TCR) binding to diverse peptide-major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) ligands results in various degrees of T cell activation. Here we analyze which binding properties of the TCR-pMHC interaction are responsible for this variation in pMHC activation potency. We have analyzed activation of the 1G4 cytotoxic T lymphocyte clone by cognate pMHC variants and performed thorough correlation analysis of T cell activation with 1G4 TCR-pMHC binding properties measured in solution. We found that both the on rate (k(on)) and off rate (k(off)) contribute to activation potency. Based on our results, we propose a model in which rapid TCR rebinding to the same pMHC after chemical dissociation increases the effective half-life or "confinement time" of a TCR-pMHC interaction. This confinement time model clarifies the role of k(on) in T cell activation and reconciles apparently contradictory reports on the role of TCR-pMHC binding kinetics and affinity in T cell activation.

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