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Exposure of humans to topical bovine thrombin has been associated with development of antibodies against bovine and human coagulation factors and blood coagulation abnormalities. However, the nature of this humoral response is unknown. In this study, numerous glycoproteins in the topical bovine thrombin were found to contain the Gal(alpha1)-3Gal epitope, which is known to be highly immunogenic. More importantly, Gal(alpha1)-3Gal is recognized by natural antibodies that are found in all normal individuals and are known to effectively mediate complement activation and subsequent destruction of xenogeneic tissues. Thus, primary exposure of normal individuals to topical bovine thrombin is expected to result in an immediate immune reaction against that reagent. Further, following exposure to topical bovine thrombin, the levels of anti-Gal(alpha1)-3Gal IgG rose to levels tenfold greater than the average level of natural anti-Gal(alpha1)-3Gal IgG in naive individuals. Thus, Gal(alpha1)-3Gal in topical bovine thrombin accounts for, at least in part, the highly immunogenic nature of this reagent.
CD8+ T cells respond to Ags when their clonotypic receptor, the TCR, recognizes nonself peptides displayed by MHC class I molecules. The TCR/ligand interactions are degenerate because, in its life time, the TCR interacts with self MHC class I-self peptide complexes during ontogeny and with self class I complexed with nonself peptides to initiate Ag-specific responses. Additionally, the same TCR has the potential to interact with nonself class I complexed with nonself peptides. How a single TCR interfaces multiple ligands remains unclear. Combinatorial synthetic peptide libraries provide a powerful tool to elucidate the rules that dictate how a single TCR engages multiple ligands. Such libraries were used to probe the requirements for TCR recognition by cloned CD8+ T cells directed against Ags presented by H-2Kb class I molecules. When H-2Kb contact residues were examined, position 3 of the peptides proved more critical than the dominant carboxyl-terminal anchor residue. Thus, secondary anchor residues can play a dominant role in determining the antigenicity of the epitope presented by class I molecules. When the four solvent-exposed potential TCR contact residues were examined, only one or two of these positions required structurally similar residues. Considerable structural variability was tolerated at the remaining two or three solvent-exposed residues of the Kb-binding peptides. The TCR, therefore, requires close physico-chemical complementarity with only a few amino acid residues, thus explaining why TCR/MHC interactions are of low affinity and degenerate.
The major pathway of gammadelta cell development is shown to be regulated by in-frame rearrangements at the T cell receptor (TCR) delta locus. Such "delta selection" occurs at or around the same point in thymocyte development as selection for in-frame rearrangements at the TCRbeta locus. However, there are at least two major differences with beta selection: first, delta selection commonly involves selection on the cognate TCR chain, gamma, suggesting that there is no "preTgamma" chain of major biological significance; second, most gammadelta-selected thymocytes differentiate rather than proliferate. Nonetheless, some delta selection events seemingly facilitate thymocyte expansion, similar to alphabeta T cell development. In these cases, TCRgamma selection is less obvious. Furthermore, the capacity of individual gamma chains to facilitate gammadelta selection is shown to vary with developmental age. The results further clarify early T cell development at the beta selection/delta selection stage and place clear constraints on models of cell fate determination.