The Major Histocompatibility Complex and Protein Recognition by T Lymphocytes
In biochemistry all good things come in twos -- as pairs of receptors and their ligands (Fig. 1). An enzyme interacts with its substrate and thus initiates or accelerates a chemical reaction. A hormone binds to its receptor and thus regulates a physiological process. A regulatory protein attaches to a promoter region of DNA and thus activates a gene. And so on. In immunology, on the other hand, the best things come in threes. Here, the T-cell receptor (Tcr) curiously enough does not react with one but with two ligands simultaneously: with an antigen and with major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) molecules (Fig. 2). The immune system, to be sure, has not completely abandoned the old-fashioned twosome relationship (antibodies react with antigens and antigens only), but the most profound event in the immune response, the initial distinction between self and non-self, is a threesome affair.
KeywordsMajor Histocompatibility Complex Blind Spot Nominal Antigen Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Nonresponder Individual
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