T cell recognition of peptide-MHC is highly specific and is sensitive to very low levels of agonist peptide; however, it is unclear how this effect is achieved or regulated. In this study we show that clustering class I MHC molecules on the cell surface of B lymphoblasts enhances their recognition by mouse and human T cells. We increased clustering of MHC I molecules by two methods, cholesterol depletion and direct cross-linking of a dimerizable MHC construct. Imaging showed that both treatments increased the size and intensity of MHC clusters on the cell surface. Enlarged clusters correlated with enhanced lysis and T cell effector function. Enhancements were peptide-specific and greatest at low concentrations of peptide. Clustering MHC class I enhanced recognition of both strong and weak agonists but not null peptide. Our results indicate that the lateral organization of MHC class I on the cell surface can modulate the sensitivity of T cell recognition of agonist peptide.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy