αβ T Cell Receptor

CDR Loops TCR pMHC interaction

What is the αβTCR?

The αβT-cell receptor (TCR) is a two chain glycoprotein which is expressed on the surface of circulating T-cells. It is very similar in shape to an antibody.

What is the role of the αβTCR in the immune system?

The αβTCR recognises pMHC molecules, which are expressed on the surface of almost all nucleated cells in the body. If a cell is contaminated with a virus, or another type of infection, the interaction between the αβTCR and pMHC allows specific types of T-cells to activate and initiate immune responses to eliminate the infected cell. Thus, the interaction between the αβTCR and pMHC dictates the specificity of the T-cell and determines whether it initiates an immune response making this interaction the most critical event in T-cell immunity.

Why is it important to study the αβTCR?

αβT-cells orchestrate immunity and protect against pathogens and cellular malignancies. T-cells recognise and clear diseased, or aberrant tissue, via the interaction αβTCR and pMHC. Understanding the molecular rules that govern TCR/pMHC interactions may allow for the development of artificial T-cells with a ‘supernatural’ ability to fight disease. We are currently developing a number of artificial T-cells which express enhanced affinity TCRs for the treatment of cancer, HIV, EBV and tuberculosis.