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Allospecific immune responses against the MHC of another individual are remarkably strong, due t a high number of responding T cell clones. Although it has been demonstrated that some allospecific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) recognize peptides presented by allogeneic MHC class I molecules, it has remained unclear whether MHC molecules can be recognized directly. We used the H-2b-derived murine lymphoma mutant RMA-S, which has a defect affecting peptide loading of class I molecules, to test whether recognition by allospecific CTL always requires the presence of peptides. Three types of anti-H-2Kb CTL clones can be distinguished by their ability to lyse RMA-S target cells. Type A CTL clones efficiently lyse these target cells, the lysis by type B CTL clones is inefficient, and type C clones fail to lyse RMA-S. Up-regulation of the levels of H-2Kb density improved lysis by type B clones, but did not lead to lysis by type C clones. Some type A and B CTL clones apparently can recognize class I molecules devoid of peptides, while others are likely to recognize peptides which are not affected by the presentation defect of RMA-S. We suggest that type C clones are specific for peptides which are not presented by the mutant cells. The results show that the majority of alloreactive CTL recognize peptide/MHC complexes, while some CTL behave as if they can recognize class I molecules in the absence of MHC-bound peptides.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Immunol

Publication Date





2767 - 2774


Animals, Antibodies, Monoclonal, CD8 Antigens, Cell Differentiation, Clone Cells, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic, H-2 Antigens, Immunity, Cellular, Mice, Mice, Inbred Strains, Peptides, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic