Structure of a fully assembled tumor-specific T cell receptor ligated by pMHC.
Sušac L., Vuong MT., Thomas C., von Bülow S., O'Brien-Ball C., Santos AM., Fernandes RA., Hummer G., Tampé R., Davis SJ.
The T cell receptor (TCR) expressed by T lymphocytes initiates protective immune responses to pathogens and tumors. To explore the structural basis of how TCR signaling is initiated when the receptor binds to peptide-loaded major histocompatibility complex (pMHC) molecules, we used cryogenic electron microscopy to determine the structure of a tumor-reactive TCRαβ/CD3δγε2ζ2 complex bound to a melanoma-specific human class I pMHC at 3.08 Å resolution. The antigen-bound complex comprises 11 subunits stabilized by multivalent interactions across three structural layers, with clustered membrane-proximal cystines stabilizing the CD3-εδ and CD3-εγ heterodimers. Extra density sandwiched between transmembrane helices reveals the involvement of sterol lipids in TCR assembly. The geometry of the pMHC/TCR complex suggests that efficient TCR scanning of pMHC requires accurate pre-positioning of T cell and antigen-presenting cell membranes. Comparisons of the ligand-bound and unliganded receptors, along with molecular dynamics simulations, indicate that TCRs can be triggered in the absence of spontaneous structural rearrangements.