T cell recognition of distinct peptide:I-Au conformers in murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

J Immunol. 2003 Sep 1;171(5):2467-77. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.171.5.2467.


We have used T cells bearing TCRs that are closely related in sequence as probes to detect conformational variants of peptide-MHC complexes in murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in H-2(u) mice. The N-terminal epitope of myelin basic protein (MBP) is immunodominant in this model. Our studies have primarily focused on T cell recognition of a position 4 analog of this peptide (MBP1-9[4Y]) complexed with I-A(u). Using site-directed mutagenesis, we have mapped the functionally important complementarity determining region residues of the 1934.4 TCR Valpha domain. One of the resulting mutants (Tyr(95) to alanine in CDR3alpha, Y95A) has interesting properties: relative to the parent wild-type TCR, this mutant poorly recognizes Ag complexes generated by pulsing professional APCs (PL-8 cells) with MBP1-9[4Y] while retaining recognition of MBP1-9[4Y]-pulsed unconventional APCs or insect cell-expressed complexes of I-A(u) containing tethered MBP1-9[4Y]. Insect cell expression of recombinant I-A(u) with covalently tethered class II-associated invariant chain peptide or other peptides which bind relatively weakly, followed by proteolytic cleavage of the peptide linker and replacement by MBP1-9[4Y] in vitro, results in complexes that resemble peptide-pulsed PL-8 cells. Therefore, the distinct conformers can be produced in recombinant form. T cells that can distinguish these two conformers can also be generated by the immunization of H-2(u) mice, indicating that differential recognition of the conformers is observed for responding T cells in vivo. These studies have relevance to understanding the molecular details of T cell recognition in murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. They are also of particular importance for the effective use of multimeric peptide-MHC complexes to characterize the properties of Ag-specific T cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / metabolism
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / genetics
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / immunology*
  • H-2 Antigens / immunology
  • H-2 Antigens / metabolism
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / metabolism*
  • Hybridomas
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Myelin Basic Protein / genetics
  • Myelin Basic Protein / immunology*
  • Myelin Basic Protein / metabolism*
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics
  • Peptide Fragments / immunology*
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding / genetics
  • Protein Binding / immunology
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / genetics
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Transfection


  • Antigens, Differentiation, B-Lymphocyte
  • H-2 Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Myelin Basic Protein
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • invariant chain