T-cell receptor binding affinities and kinetics: impact on T-cell activity and specificity

Immunology. 2009 Feb;126(2):165-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2008.03015.x.


The interaction between the T-cell receptor (TCR) and its peptide-major histocompatibility complex (pepMHC) ligand plays a critical role in determining the activity and specificity of the T cell. The binding properties associated with these interactions have now been studied in many systems, providing a framework for a mechanistic understanding of the initial events that govern T-cell function. There have been various other reviews that have described the structural and biochemical features of TCR : pepMHC interactions. Here we provide an overview of four areas that directly impact our understanding of T-cell function, as viewed from the perspective of the TCR : pepMHC interaction: (1) relationships between T-cell activity and TCR : pepMHC binding parameters, (2) TCR affinity, avidity and clustering, (3) influence of coreceptors on pepMHC binding by TCRs and T-cell activity, and (4) impact of TCR binding affinity on antigenic peptide specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / immunology
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Protein Binding / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • Ligands
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell