Rare individuals, termed HIV controllers, spontaneously control HIV infection by mounting efficient T cell responses against the virus. Protective CD4+ T cell responses from HIV controllers involve high-affinity public T cell receptors (TCRs) recognizing an immunodominant capsid epitope (Gag293) presented by a remarkably broad array of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecules. Here, we determine the structures of a prototypical public TCR bound to HLA-DR1, HLA-DR11, and HLA-DR15 molecules presenting the Gag293 epitope. TCR recognition was driven by contacts with the Gag293 epitope, a feature that underpinned the extensive HLA cross-restriction. These high-affinity TCRs promoted mature immunological synapse formation and cytotoxic capacity in both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. The public TCRs suppressed HIV replication in multiple genetic backgrounds ex vivo, emphasizing the functional advantage conferred by broad HLA class II cross-restriction.
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