The somatically generated portion of T cell receptor CDR3α contributes to the MHC allele specificity of the T cell receptor

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Abstract

Mature T cells bearing ab T cell receptors react with foreign antigens bound to alleles of major histocompatibility complex proteins (MHC) that they were exposed to during their development in the thymus, a phenomenon known as positive selection. The structural basis for positive selection has long been debated. Here, using mice expressing one of two different T cell receptor β chains and various MHC alleles, we show that positive selection-induced MHC bias of T cell receptors is affected both by the germline encoded elements of the T cell receptor α and β chain and, surprisingly, dramatically affected by the non germ line encoded portions of CDR3 of the T cell receptor α chain. Thus, in addition to determining specificity for antigen, the non germline encoded elements of T cell receptors may help the proteins cope with the extremely polymorphic nature of major histocompatibility complex products within the species.

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Marrack, P., Krovi, S. H., Silberman, D., White, J., Kushnir, E., Nakayama, M., … Kappler, J. (2017). The somatically generated portion of T cell receptor CDR3α contributes to the MHC allele specificity of the T cell receptor. ELife, 6. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.30918

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