Differential Signalling by Variant Ligands of the T Cell Receptor and the Kinetic Model of T Cell Activation
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The structural basis of T cell activation through the T cell receptor is still a major unresolved issue in T cell biology. The wealth of information on the generation and structure of T cell receptor ligands and the biochemistry of signal transduction from this receptor have been useful in the initial approach to explain how T cell activation occurs. More recently, the generation of variant T cell receptor ligands with partial agonist or antagonist properties, the determination of crystal structures for unengaged and engaged T cell receptors, and the kinetics of T cell receptor interactions with peptide:MHC molecule complexes have provided new insights on T cell receptor function. The common theme arising from these experiments is that the T cell receptor is a versatile signalling machine, with an inherent flexibility for ligand recognition that translates in different signalling patterns. Here, I will review the data on differential signalling from the T cell receptor upon recognition of partial agonist and antagonist ligands and how these data impact on a more general kinetic model of T cell receptor-mediated activation.