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J Immunol. 2006 Nov 15;177(10):6804-14.

TCR alpha genes direct MHC restriction in the potent human T cell response to a class I-bound viral epitope.

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Cellular Immunology Laboratory, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia.


The underlying generic properties of alphabeta TCRs that control MHC restriction remain largely unresolved. To investigate MHC restriction, we have examined the CTL response to a viral epitope that binds promiscuously to two human leukocyte Ags (HLAs) that differ by a single amino acid at position 156. Individuals expressing either HLA-B*3501 (156Leucine) or HLA-B*3508 (156Arginine) showed a potent CTL response to the 407HPVGEADYFEY417 epitope from EBV. Interestingly, the response was characterized by highly restricted TCR beta-chain usage in both HLA-B*3501+ and HLA-B*3508+ individuals; however, this conserved TRBV9+ beta-chain was associated with distinct TCR alpha-chains depending upon the HLA-B*35 allele expressed by the virus-exposed host. Functional assays confirmed that TCR alpha-chain usage determined the HLA restriction of the CTLs. Structural studies revealed significant differences in the mobility of the peptide when bound to HLA-B*3501 or HLA-B*3508. In HLA-B*3501, the bulged section of the peptide was disordered, whereas in HLA-B*3508 the bulged epitope adopted an ordered conformation. Collectively, these data demonstrate not only that mobile MHC-bound peptides can be highly immunogenic but can also stimulate an extremely biased TCR repertoire. In addition, TCR alpha-chain usage is shown to play a critical role in controlling MHC restriction between closely related allomorphs.

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