Interactions between MHC molecules and co-receptors of the TCR

Rolf König

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Genetic experiments indicate similarity between binding sites on MHC class I (MHCI) for CD8 and on MHCII for CD4, but the crystal structures of CD8/MHCI and CD4/MHCII complexes suggest critical differences between the interfaces in the two complexes. Biophysical analyses using ectodomains of co-receptors and MHC molecules demonstrate extremely fast kinetics and low-affinity interactions. Experiments with soluble multimeric MHC ligands suggest that CD4 and CD8 may differ in the mechanisms by which they promote the formation of ternary TCR/MHC/co-receptor complexes. Co-receptor-influenced duration of TCR signaling controls thymocyte selection. In naïve T cells, CD4/MHCII interactions may promote T-cell survival. Temporal and spatial analysis of TCR and CD4 co-clustering in the immunological synapse suggests that CD4 recruitment is regulated by the half-life of the initial TCR/MHCII complex. Diverse experimental systems have yielded conflicting data that have helped to formulate revised mechanistic models of co-receptor function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Opinion in Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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