I. Salutari; R. Martin; A. Caflisch

Journal: Proteins
Year: 2019
Volume: 88
Issue: 1
Pages: 31-46
DOI: 10.1002/prot.25764
Type of Publication: Journal Article

major histocompatibility complex; MHC II peptides; molecular dynamics; residue contact maps; structural flexibility; T-cell receptor


T-cell receptor (TCR) recognition of the myelin basic protein (MBP) peptide presented by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) protein HLA-DR2a, one of the MHC class II alleles associated with multiple sclerosis, is highly variable. Interactions in the trimolecular complex between the TCR of the MBP83-99-specific T cell clone 3A6 with the MBP-peptide/HLA-DR2a (abbreviated TCR/pMHC) lead to substantially different proliferative responses when comparing the wild-type decapeptide MBP90-99 and a superagonist peptide, which differs mainly in the residues that point toward the TCR. Here, we investigate the influence of the peptide sequence on the interface and intrinsic plasticity of the TCR/pMHC trimolecular and pMHC bimolecular complexes by molecular dynamics simulations. The intermolecular contacts at the TCR/pMHC interface are similar for the complexes with the superagonist and the MBP self-peptide. The orientation angle between TCR and pMHC fluctuates less in the complex with the superagonist peptide. Thus, the higher structural stability of the TCR/pMHC tripartite complex with the superagonist peptide, rather than a major difference in binding mode with respect to the self-peptide, seems to be responsible for the stronger proliferative response.