33 Scopus citations

Abstract

The relative plasticity of peptide binding to class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules permits formation of multiple conformational isomers by the same peptide and MHC molecule; such conformers are specifically recognized by distinct subsets of T cells. Here, we review current knowledge and recent advances in our understanding of peptide-class II MHC conformational isomerism and the mechanisms that generate distinct MHC-peptide conformers. We focus on our studies of two T-cell subsets, type A and B, which recognize distinct conformers of the dominant epitope of hen egg white lysozyme presented by I-Ak. These conformers form via different pathways and in distinct intracellular vesicles: the type A conformer forms in late endosomes upon processing of native protein, while the more flexible type B conformer forms in early endosomes and at the cell surface. In this process, H2-DM acts as a conformational editor, eliminating the type B conformer in late endosomes. Type B T cells constitute a significant component of the naïve T-cell repertoire; furthermore, self-reactive type B T cells escape negative selection and are present in abundance in the periphery. Ongoing studies should elucidate the role of type B T cells in immunity to pathogens and in autoimmune pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-313
Number of pages21
JournalImmunological Reviews
Volume207
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2005

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