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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Sep 12;92(19):8896-900.

Structure of human T-cell receptors specific for an immunodominant myelin basic protein peptide: positioning of T-cell receptors on HLA-DR2/peptide complexes.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


T-cell receptors (TCRs) recognize peptide bound within the relatively conserved structural framework of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I or class II molecules but can discriminate between closely related MHC molecules. The structural basis for the specificity of ternary complex formation by the TCR and MHC/peptide complexes was examined for myelin basic protein (MBP)-specific T-cell clones restricted by different DR2 subtypes. Conserved features of this system allowed a model for positioning of the TCR on DR2/peptide complexes to be developed: (i) The DR2 subtypes that presented the immunodominant MBP peptide differed only at a few polymorphic positions of the DR beta chain. (ii) TCR recognition of a polymorphic residue on the helical portion of the DR beta chain (position DR beta 67) was important in determining the MHC restriction. (iii) The TCR variable region (V) alpha 3.1 gene segment was used by all of the T-cell clones. TCR V beta usage was more diverse but correlated with the MHC restriction--i.e., with the polymorphic DR beta chains. (iv) Two clones with conserved TCR alpha chains but different TCR beta chains had a different MHC restriction but a similar peptide specificity. The difference in MHC restriction between these T-cell clones appeared due to recognition of a cluster of polymorphic DR beta-chain residues (DR beta 67-71). MBP-(85-99)-specific TCRs therefore appeared to be positioned on the DR2/peptide complex such that the TCR beta chain contacted the polymorphic DR beta-chain helix while the conserved TCR alpha chain contacted the nonpolymorphic DR alpha chain.

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