Decoupling peptide binding from T cell receptor recognition with engineered chimeric MHC-I molecules.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Front Immunol, Volume 14, p.1116906 (2023)


Antigens, Complementarity Determining Regions, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, HLA Antigens, Humans, Peptides, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell


<p>Major Histocompatibility Complex class I (MHC-I) molecules display self, viral or aberrant epitopic peptides to T cell receptors (TCRs), which employ interactions between complementarity-determining regions with both peptide and MHC-I heavy chain &#39;framework&#39; residues to recognize specific Human Leucocyte Antigens (HLAs). The highly polymorphic nature of the HLA peptide-binding groove suggests a malleability of interactions within a common structural scaffold. Here, using structural data from peptide:MHC-I and pMHC:TCR structures, we first identify residues important for peptide and/or TCR binding. We then outline a fixed-backbone computational design approach for engineering synthetic molecules that combine peptide binding and TCR recognition surfaces from existing HLA allotypes. X-ray crystallography demonstrates that chimeric molecules bridging divergent HLA alleles can bind selected peptide antigens in a specified backbone conformation. Finally, tetramer staining and biophysical binding experiments using chimeric pMHC-I molecules presenting established antigens further demonstrate the requirement of TCR recognition on interactions with HLA framework residues, as opposed to interactions with peptide-centric Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs). Our results underscore a novel, structure-guided platform for developing synthetic HLA molecules with desired properties as screening probes for peptide-centric interactions with TCRs and other therapeutic modalities.</p>