Structural basis of T cell receptor specificity and cross-reactivity of two HLA-DQ2.5-restricted gluten epitopes in celiac disease

Laura Ciacchi, Carine Farenc, Shiva Dahal-Koirala, Jan Petersen, Ludvig M. Sollid, Hugh H. Reid, Jamie Rossjohn

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Celiac disease is a T cell-mediated chronic inflammatory condition often characterized by human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ2.5 molecules presenting gluten epitopes derived from wheat, barley, and rye. Although some T cells exhibit cross-reactivity toward distinct gluten epitopes, the structural basis underpinning such cross-reactivity is unclear. Here, we investigated the T-cell receptor specificity and cross-reactivity of two immunodominant wheat gluten epitopes, DQ2.5-glia- α1a (PFPQPELPY) and DQ2.5-glia-ω1 (PFPQPEQPF). We show by surface plasmon resonance that a T-cell receptor alpha variable (TRAV) 4+-T-cell receptor beta variable (TRBV) 29-1+ TCR bound to HLA-DQ2.5-glia-α1a and HLA-DQ2.5-glia-ω1 with similar affinity, whereas a TRAV4- (TRAV9-2+) TCR recognized HLA-DQ2.5-glia-ω1 only. We further determined the crystal structures of the TRAV4+-TRBV29-1+ TCR bound to HLA-DQ2.5-glia-α1a and HLA-DQ2.5-glia-ω1, as well as the structure of an epitope-specific TRAV9-2+-TRBV7-3+ TCRHLA- DQ2.5-glia-ω1 complex. We found that position 7 (p7) of the DQ2.5-glia-α1a and DQ2.5-glia-ω1 epitopes made very limited contacts with the TRAV4+ TCR, thereby explaining the TCR cross-reactivity across these two epitopes. In contrast, within the TRAV9-2+ TCR-HLA-DQ2.5-glia-ω1 ternary complex, the p7-Gln was situated in an electrostatic pocket formed by the hypervariable CDR3β loop of the TCR and Arg70β from HLA-DQ2.5, a polar network which would not be supported by the p7-Leu residue of DQ2.5-glia-α1a. In conclusion, we provide additional insights into the molecular determinants of TCR specificity and cross-reactivity to two closely-related epitopes in celiac disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101619
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

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