Secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structure of T-cell-specific immunoglobulin-like polypeptide chains

J. Novotný, S. Tonegawa, H. Saito, D. M. Kranz, H. N. Eisen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To explore the possibility that the difference in antigen recognition between B and T cells derives from a structural difference in their respective antigen-specific receptors (immunoglobulins on B cells and immunoglobulin-like molecules on T cells), we compared the extracellular segments of the T-cell receptor α, β, and γ polypeptide chains and the N-terminal segment of the T-cell T8 (Lyt-2) antigen chain with the corresponding regions of immunoglobulins whose three-dimensional structures are known. The results indicate that the four T-cell polypeptide chains are organized into immunoglobulin-like domains consisting of multistranded antiparallel β-sheet bilayers. Invariant amino acid side chains that are conserved in diversed immunoglobulins, including those that mediate domain-domain interactions and form a constant scaffold for antibody binding sites, are also conserved in the chains encoded by the T-cell receptor genes and in the N-terminal domain of T8 (Lyt-2). It appears that the binding sites of the antigen-specific T-cell αβ-chain receptors and of antibodies are very similar in their overall dimensions and geometry: a T-cell αβ receptor molecule probably has an antigen-specific binding site that is fundamentally no different than the conventional binding site of an antibody.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)742-746
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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