Faculty Research 1990 - 1999


Shaping the repertoire of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte responses: explanation for the immunodominance effect whereby cytotoxic T lymphocytes specific for immunodominant antigens prevent recognition of nondominant antigens.

Document Type


Publication Date



Animal, Antigen Presentation, Antigens/*immunology, Cell-Line, H-Y Antigen H-2 Antigens, Immunodominant Epitopes, Mice, Mice, Inbred C3H, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Peptide Fragments, Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic

JAX Source

Blood 1999 Feb 1;93(3):952-62


The immunodominance effect, whereby the presence of immunodominant epitopes prevents recognition of nondominant determinants presented on the same antigen-presenting cell (APC) considerably restricts the repertoire of cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses. To elucidate the molecular basis of the immunodominance effect, we compared the interactions of a dominant (B6(dom1)) and a nondominant epitope (H-Y) with their restricting class I molecule (H2-Db), and their ability to trigger cognate CTLs. We found that B6(dom1)/Db complexes behaved as optimal T-cell receptor (TCR) ligands and triggered a more rapid in vivo expansion of cognate CTLs than H-Y/Db complexes. The superiority of the dominant epitope was explained by its high cell surface density (1,012 copies/cell for B6(dom1) v 10 copies/cell for H-Y) and its optimal affinity for cognate TCRs. Based on these results, we conclude that dominant class I-associated epitopes are those that have optimal ability to trigger TCR signals in CTLs. We propose that the rapid expansion of CTLs specific for dominant antigens should enable them to compete more successfully than other CTLs for occupancy of the APC surface.

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