Oligomeric MHC molecules and their homologues: state of the art.
Dunbar PR., Ogg GS.
This special issue of the Journal of Immunological Methods brings together articles from some of the leaders in labelling antigen-specific T and NKT cells, describing recent technical advances and their impact on the study of immunology. Although tetramers, or tetrameric MHC class I/peptide complexes, are the best known reagents in the field, various forms of oligomeric complexes are now being successfully used to detect antigen-specific T cells, including cytotoxic T lymphocytes, MHC class II-restricted CD4+ T cells, and glycolipid-specific T cells restricted by CD1 isoforms. The articles presented here detail the breadth of the oligomeric structures being used to probe T, NK and NKT cell function, and cover both the technical and practical aspects of their use, as well as the new biology revealed. In addition to providing a summary of the current state of the art, these contributions also provide clear pointers to strategies likely to succeed in the future. In this introductory chapter, we summarise the work presented in the other articles of this issue, and provide an overarching view of this rapidly evolving field. We also provide a summary of the MHC class I molecules successfully refolded to date, and provide references to other relevant sources of technical information.