Structural basis for the restoration of TCR recognition of an MHC allelic variant by peptide secondary anchor substitution

Michael J. Miley, Ilhem Messaoudi, Beatrix M. Metzner, Yudong Wu, Janko Nikolich-Žugich, Daved H. Fremont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I variants H-2Kb and H-2Kbm8 differ primarily in the B pocket of the peptide-binding groove, which serves to sequester the P2 secondary anchor residue. This polymorphism determines resistance to lethal herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) infection by modulating T cell responses to the immunodominant glycoprotein B498-505 epitope, HSV8. We studied the molecular basis of these effects and confirmed that T cell receptors raised against Kb-HSV8 cannot recognize H-2Kbm8-HSV8. However, substitution of Ser P2 to GluP2 (peptide H2E) reversed T cell receptor (TCR) recognition; H-2Kbm8-H2E was recognized whereas H-2Kb-H2E was not. Insight into the structural basis of this discrimination was obtained by determining the crystal structures of all four MHC class I molecules in complex with bound peptide (pMHCs). Surprisingly, we find no concerted pMHC surface differences that can explain the differential TCR recognition. However, a correlation is apparent between the recognition data and the underlying peptide-binding groove chemistry of the B pocket, revealing that secondary anchor residues can profoundly affect TCR engagement through mechanisms distinct from the alteration of the resting state conformation of the pMHC surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1445-1454
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2004


  • Antigen presentation
  • Crystallography
  • Herpes simplex virus 1
  • Major histocompatibility complex
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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