Compensatory Mechanisms Allow Undersized Anchor-Deficient Class i MHC Ligands to Mediate Pathogenic Autoreactive T Cell Responses

Deanna Lamont, Gayatri Mukherjee, P. Rajesh Kumar, Dibyendu Samanta, Caroline G. McPhee, Thomas W.H. Kay, Steven C. Almo, Teresa P. DiLorenzo, David V. Serreze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Self-reactive T cells must escape thymic negative selection to mediate pathogenic autoimmunity. In the NOD mouse model of autoimmune diabetes, several β cell-cytotoxic CD8 T cell populations are known, with the most aggressive of these represented by AI4, a T cell clone with promiscuous Ag-recognition characteristics. We identified a long-elusive β cell-specific ligand for AI4 as an unusually short H-2Db-binding 7-mer peptide lacking a C-terminal anchor residue and derived from the insulin A chain (InsA14-20). Crystallography reveals that compensatory mechanisms permit peptides lacking a C-terminal anchor to bind sufficiently to the MHC to enable destructive T cell responses, yet allow cognate T cells to avoid negative selection. InsA14-20shares two solvent-exposed residues with previously identified AI4 ligands, providing a structural explanation for AI4's promiscuity. Detection of AI4-like T cells, using mimotopes of InsA14-20with improved H-2Db-binding characteristics, establishes the AI4-like T cell population as a consistent feature of the islet infiltrates of NOD mice. Our work establishes undersized peptides as previously unrecognized targets of autoreactive CD8 T cells and presents a strategy for their further exploration as Ags in autoimmune disease. Copyright

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2135-2146
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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