CD8+CTLs are essential for effective immune defense against intracellular microbes and neoplasia. CTLs recognize short peptide fragments presented in association with MHC class I (MHCI) molecules on the surface of infected or dysregulated cells. Ag recognition involves the binding of both TCR and CD8 coreceptor to a single ligand (peptide MHCI [pMHCI]). The TCR/pMHCI interaction confers Ag specificity, whereas the pMHCI/CD8 interaction mediates enhanced sensitivity to Ag. Striking biophysical differences exist between the TCR/pMHCI and pMHCI/CD8 interactions; indeed, the pMHCI/CD8 interaction can be >100-fold weaker than the cognate TCR/pMHCI interaction. In this study, we show that increasing the strength of the pMHCI/CD8 interaction by ∼15-fold results in nonspecific, cognate Ag-independent pMHCI tetramer binding at the cell surface. Furthermore, pMHCI molecules with superenhanced affinity for CD8 activate CTLs in the absence of a specific TCR/pMHCI interaction to elicit a full range of effector functions, including cytokine/chemokine release, degranulation and proliferation. Thus, the low solution binding affinity of the pMHCI/CD8 interaction is essential for the maintenance of CTL Ag specificity. Copyright

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Wooldridge, L, Clement, M, Lissina, A, Edwards, E.S.J, Ladell, K, Ekeruche, J, … Sewell, A.K. (2010). MHC class I molecules with superenhanced CD8 binding properties bypass the requirement for cognate TCR recognition and nonspecifically activate CTLs. Journal of Immunology, 184(7), 3357–3366. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.0902398