The αβ T Cell Receptor (TCR)

The αβ T-cell receptor (TCR) is a two chain glycoprotein that is expressed on the T-cell surface. It is very similar in shape to an antibody. What is the role of αβTCR in the immune system? The αβTCR recognises pMHC molecules, that are expressed on the surface of almost all nucleated cells in the body. Interrogation of pMHC by the αβTCR allows T-cells to recognise ‘foreign’ (non-self) peptides such as those derived from viruses and other infections. Thus, the interaction between the αβTCR and pMHC dictates the specificity of the T-cell and determines whether it initiates an immune response making αβTCR/pMHC interaction the most critical event in T-cell immunity. Why is it important to study the αβTCR repertoire? αβT-cells orchestrate immunity and protect against pathogens and cellular malignancies. T-cells recognise and clear diseased, or aberrant tissue, via the interaction αβTCR and pMHC. Understanding the molecular rules that govern TCR/pMHC interactions may allow for the development of artificial T-cells with a ‘supernatural’ ability to fight disease. We are currently developing a number of artificial T-cells which express enhanced affinity TCRs for the treatment of cancer and infection.