Recent studies demonstrated that antigen analogs can act as powerful and specific inhibitors of T cell activation, leading to the formulation of the concept that antigen analog/MHC complexes may act as antagonists of the T cell receptor (TCR). TCR antagonism appears to be associated with engagement of the TCR below a crucial affinity threshold necessary for full T cell activation. Studies addressing the molecular mechanism of this effect suggest that TCR antagonists could act by interfering with membrane-related events (such as proper receptor clustering) that might precede intracellular signaling. Discovery of the TCR antagonism phenomenon also suggested a possible rational approach to antigen-specific immunointervention in allergies and autoimmune diseases. The feasibility of such an approach is now being actively investigated. Finally, TCR antagonist peptides may provide a useful tool to probe TCR-peptide/MHC interactions involved in the process of thymic education.
Annual Review of Immunology – Annual Reviews
Published: Apr 1, 1994