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Fab antibodies capable of blocking T cells by competitive binding have the identical specificity but a higher affinity to the MHC-peptide-complex than the T cell receptor.
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In transplant rejection, graft versus host or autoimmune diseases T cells are mediating the pathophysiological processes. Compared to unspecific pharmacological immune suppression specific inhibition of those T cells, that are involved in the disease, would be an alternative and attractive approach. T cells are activated after their T cell receptor (TCR) recognizes an antigenic peptide displayed by the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). Molecules that interact with MHC-peptide-complexes in a specific fashion should block T cells with identical specificity. Using the model of the SSX2 (103-111)/HLA-A*0201 complex we investigated a panel of MHC-peptide-specific Fab antibodies for their capacity blocking specific T cell clones. Like TCRs all Fab antibodies reacted with the MHC complex only when the SSX2 (103-111) peptide was displayed. By introducing single amino acid mutations in the HLA-A*0201 heavy chain we identified the K66 residue as the most critical binding similar to that of TCRs. However, some Fab antibodies did not inhibit the reactivity of a specific T cell clone against peptide pulsed, artificial targets, nor cells displaying the peptide after endogenous processing. Measurements of binding kinetics revealed that only those Fab antibodies were capable of blocking T cells that interacted with an affinity in the nanomolar range. Fab antibodies binding like TCRs with affinities on the lower micromolar range did not inhibit T cell reactivity. These results indicate that molecules that block T cells by competitive binding with the TCR must have the same specificity but higher affinity for the MHC-peptide-complex than the TCR.
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