Integrating Experiment and Theory to Understand TCR-pMHC Dynamics

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The conformational dynamism of proteins is well established. Rather than having a single structure, proteins are more accurately described as a conformational ensemble that exists across a rugged energy landscape, where different conformational sub-states interconvert. The interaction between αβ T cell receptors (TCR) and cognate peptide-MHC (pMHC) is no exception, and is a dynamic process that involves substantial conformational change. This review focuses on technological advances that have begun to establish the role of conformational dynamics and dynamic allostery in TCR recognition of the pMHC and the early stages of signaling. We discuss how the marriage of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations with experimental techniques provides us with new ways to dissect and interpret the process of TCR ligation. Notably, application of simulation techniques lags behind other fields, but is predicted to make substantial contributions. Finally, we highlight integrated approaches that are being used to shed light on some of the key outstanding questions in the early events leading to TCR signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2898
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2018


  • conformational dynamics
  • immune synapse
  • MHC
  • T cell activation
  • TCR
  • TCR recognition

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