The minimal number of class II MHC-antigen complexes needed for T cell activation

Science  31 Aug 1990:
Vol. 249, Issue 4972, pp. 1028-1030
DOI: 10.1126/science.2118680


Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules are exposed to large quantities of self and nonself antigens. It is not known what fraction of MHC molecules needs to be occupied by antigen to induce a T cell response. A quantitative study of naturally processed antigen indicated that T cells could be activated when only 0.03 percent of the total I-Ed purified from antigen-presenting cells (APCs) was occupied with antigen. B cells and macrophages processed hen egg lysozyme (HEL) with different efficiencies, but similar degrees of occupancy were required for T cell stimulation. Higher occupancy was needed for I-Ed-transfected L cells, possibly reflecting the requirement for other accessory molecules for efficient APC-T cell interaction.

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