Protein Structure and Folding
- Type I natural killer T (NKT) cells are a population of innate like T lymphocytes that rapidly respond to α-GalCer presented by CD1d via the production of both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. While developing novel α-GalCer analogs that were meant to be utilized as potential adjuvants because of their production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (Th1 skewers), we generated α-galactosylsphingamides (αGSA). Surprisingly, αGSAs are not potent antigens in vivo despite their strong T-cell receptor (TCR)–binding affinities.
- Natural killer T (NKT) cells are a subset of T lymphocytes that recognize glycolipid antigens presented by the CD1d molecule (CD1d). They rapidly respond to antigen challenge and can activate both innate and adaptive immune cells. To study the role of antigen presentation in NKT cell activation, previous studies have developed several anti-CD1d antibodies that block CD1d binding to T-cell receptors (TCRs). Antibodies that are specific to both CD1d and the presented antigen can only be used to study the function of only a limited number of antigens.
- Peptide antigen presentation by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I proteins initiates CD8+ T cell-mediated immunity against pathogens and cancers. MHC I molecules typically bind peptides with 9 amino acids in length with both ends tucked inside the major A and F binding pockets. It has been known for a while that longer peptides can also bind by either bulging out of the groove in the middle of the peptide or by binding in a zigzag fashion inside the groove. In a recent study, we identified an alternative binding conformation of naturally occurring peptides from Toxoplasma gondii bound by HLA-A*02:01.
- Mouse CD1d is a nonclassical MHC molecule able to present lipids and glycolipids to a specialized subset of T cells known as natural killer T cells. The antigens presented by CD1d have been shown to cover a broad range of chemical structures and to follow precise rules determining the potency of the antigen in the context of T cell activation. Together with lipids, initial reports suggested that CD1d can also bind and present hydrophobic peptides with (F/W)XX(I/L/M)XXW. However, the exact location of peptide binding and the molecular basis for the required motif are currently unknown.