How H13 histocompatibility peptides differing by a single methyl group and lacking conventional MHC binding anchor motifs determine self-nonself discrimination

D. A. Ostrov, M. M. Roden, W. Shi, E. Palmieri, G. J. Christianson, L. Mendoza, G. Villaflor, D. Tilley, N. Shastri, H. Grey, S. C. Almo, D. Roopenian, S. G. Nathenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations


The mouse H13 minor histocompatibility (H) Ag, originally detected as a barrier to allograft transplants, is remarkable in that rejection is a consequence of an extremely subtle interchange, P4Val/Ile, in a nonamer H2-Db-bound peptide. Moreover, H13 peptides lack the canonical P5Asn central anchor residue normally considered important for forming a peptide/MHC complex. To understand how these noncanonical peptide pMHC complexes form physiologically active TCR ligands, crystal structures of allelic H13 pDb complexes and a P5Asn anchored pDb analog were solved to high resolution. The structures show that the basis of TCRs to distinguish self from nonself H13 peptides is their ability to distinguish a single solvent-exposed methyl group. In addition, the structures demonstrate that there is no need for H13 peptides to derive any stabilization from interactions within the central C pocket to generate fully functional pMHC complexes. These results provide a structural explanation for a classical non-MHC-encoded H Ag, and they call into question the requirement for contact between anchor residues and the major MHC binding pockets in vaccine design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-289
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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