The Structural Basis of CD4 — MHC Class II Interactions: Coreceptor Contributions to T Cell Receptor Antigen Recognition and Oligomerization-Dependent Signal Transduction

  • R. König
  • S. Fleury
  • R. N. Germain
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 205)


During thymic differentiation, precursor T lymphocytes committed to the αβ receptor lineage differentiate along two distinct pathways into mature cells distinguished by the mutually exclusive expression of either the CD4 or CD8 cell surface glycoproteins (Reinherz et al. 1980; Reinherz and Schlossman 1980; Fitch 1986; von Boehmer 1988). Early studies of these two lymphocyte subpopulations (CD4+ and CD8+) suggested an association between the functional behavior of a T cell and its expression of either CD4 or CD8, with the former associated with B cell helper activity or delayed type hypersensitivity and the latter with cytotoxic activity. As the importance of class I and class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins in antigen recognition by αβ T cells became apparent, several investigators examined whether the best correlation of CD4 and CD8 expression was with effector function or, alternatively, with specificity of MHC molecule recognition. Expression of CD8 was found to be tightly linked with reactivity to class I MHC molecules, whereas expression of CD4 was associated with reactivity to class II MHC antigens, irrespective of the helper/cytotoxic behavior of the T cells being studied (Okada and Henney 1980; Swain 1981; Engleman et al. 1981; Biddison et al. 1982; Krensky et al. 1982; Meuer et al. 1982; Spits et al. 1982; Swain 1983; Swain et al. 1983; Fitch 1986; Bierer et al. 1989).


Major Histocompatibility Complex Major Histocompatibility Complex Class Major Histocompatibility Complex Antigen Coreceptor Function Major Histocompatibility Complex Class Specificity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. König
    • 1
  • S. Fleury
    • 2
  • R. N. Germain
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Sealy Center for Molecular ScienceUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  2. 2.Lymphocyte Biology Section, Laboratory of Immunology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious DiseasesNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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