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The T cell antigen receptor: the Swiss army knife of the immune

Attaf, Meriem, Legut, Mateusz, Cole, David and Sewell, Andrew K. 2015. The T cell antigen receptor: the Swiss army knife of the immune. Clinical and Experimental Immunology 181 (1) , pp. 1-18. 10.1111/cei.12622

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The mammalian T cell receptor (TCR) orchestrates immunity by responding to many billions of different ligands that it has never encountered before and cannot adapt to at the protein sequence level. This remarkable receptor exists in two main heterodimeric isoforms: ab TCR and gd TCR. The ab TCR is expressed on the majority of peripheral T cells. Most ab T cells recognize peptides, derived from degraded proteins, presented at the cell surface in molecular cradles called major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. Recent reports have described other ab T cell subsets. These ‘unconventional’ T cells bear TCRs that are capable of recognizing lipid ligands presented in the context of the MHC-like CD1 protein family or bacterial metabolites bound to the MHC-related protein 1 (MR1). gd T cells constitute a minority of the T cell pool in human blood, but can represent up to half of total T cells in tissues such as the gut and skin. The identity of the preferred ligands for gd T cells remains obscure, but it is now known that this receptor can also functionally engage CD1-lipid, or immunoglobulin (Ig) superfamily proteins called butyrophilins in the presence of pyrophosphate intermediates of bacterial lipid biosynthesis. Interactions between TCRs and these ligands allow the host to discriminate between self and non-self and co-ordinate an attack on the latter. Here, we describe how cells of the T lymphocyte lineage and their antigen receptors are generated and discuss the various modes of antigen recognition by these extraordinarily versatile receptors.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Systems Immunity Research Institute (SIURI)
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0009-9104
Funders: BBSRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 11 March 2015
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2019 03:41

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