The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) locus encodes classical MHC class I and MHC class II molecules and nonclassical MHC-I molecules. The architecture of these molecules is ideally suited to capture and present an array of peptide antigens (Ags). In addition, the CD1 family members and MR1 are MHC class I-like molecules that bind lipid-based Ags and vitamin B precursors, respectively. These Ag-bound molecules are subsequently recognized by T cell antigen receptors (TCRs) expressed on the surface of T lymphocytes. Structural and associated functional studies have been highly informative in providing insight into these interactions, which are crucial to immunity, and how they can lead to aberrant T cell reactivity. Investigators have determined over thirty unique TCR-peptide-MHC-I complex structures and twenty unique TCR-peptide-MHC-II complex structures. These investigations have shown a broad consensus in docking geometry and provided insight into MHC restriction. Structural studies on TCR-mediated recognition of lipid and metabolite Ags have been mostly confined to TCRs from innate-like natural killer T cells and mucosal-associated invariant T cells, respectively. These studies revealed clear differences between TCR-lipid-CD1, TCR-metabolite-MR1, and TCR-peptide-MHC recognition. Accordingly, TCRs show remarkable structural and biological versatility in engaging different classes of Ag that are presented by polymorphic and monomorphic Ag-presenting molecules of the immune system.
Keywords: CD1; MR1; T cell antigen receptor; major histocompatibility complex.