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Cross-Reactivity of T Cells and Its Role in the Immune System

TitleCross-Reactivity of T Cells and Its Role in the Immune System
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsPetrova, G, Ferrante, A, Gorski, J
JournalCritical Reviews in Immunology

T-cell receptors recognize peptides presented by the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) on the surface of antigen-presenting cells (APC). The ability of the T-cell receptor (TCR) to recognize more than one peptide-MHC structure defines cross-reactivity. Cross-reactivity is a documented phenomenon of the immune system whose importance is still under investigation. There are a number of rational arguments for cross-reactivity. These include the discrepancy between the theoretical high number of pathogen-derived peptides and the lower diversity of the T-cell repertoire, the need for recognition of escape variants, and the intrinsic low affinity of this receptor–ligand pair. However, quantifying the phenomenon has been difficult, and its immunological importance remains unknown. In this review, we examined the cases for and against an important role for cross reactivity. We argue that it may be an essential feature of the immune system from the point of view of biological robustness.

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