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The individual amino acid contacts responsible for peptide binding to DRB1*0101 and/or DRB1*0401 were defined using a quantitative binding assay. The differential contribution of each amino acid in two well studied T cell determinants, HA307-319 and RMBP 90-102, was delineated by comparing the IC50 values of analogues of varying length. This analysis confirmed the importance of a hydrophobic amino acid located near the amino-terminus for binding to both alleles and revealed that the contribution of the carboxyl-terminal amino acids differed between DRB1*0101 and DRB1*0401. Taking advantage of previous experiments demonstrating that all of the residues could be replaced with alanine, with the exception of the key hydrophobic amino acid, simplified analogues composed of polyalanines were used to prove 1) optimal binding depended on the position of the hydrophobic side chain relative to the amino- and carboxyl-termini; 2) aromatic amino acids were superior to aliphatic side chains at this position; and 3) a significant amount of free energy of binding arises from hydrogen bonding between the class II binding site and the amide bonds of the ligand. The role of each carbonyl and amide nitrogen was measured by assaying analogues containing reduced peptide bonds or N-methyl amino acids. Serine, but not glycine, could be used as a framework amino acid for peptide ligands, indicating that the beneficial aspects of these simplified structures was the combination of retaining the correct orientation of the peptide bonds, the restriction of the conformational freedom by limiting the possible phi/psi angles of the peptide, and avoidance of deleterious side-chain contacts. Collectively, these data were consistent with the peptide binding in a nonrepeating conformation with the vast majority of the free energy of binding arising from hydrogen bonds with the peptide backbone and a single, key hydrophobic side chain interacting in a conserved pocket in both DRB1*0101 and DRB1*0401.


Journal article


Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Publication Date





2890 - 2898


ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corp., Palo Alto, CA 94304.


Humans, Peptide Fragments, Histocompatibility Antigens Class II, HLA-DR Antigens, Ligands, Amino Acid Sequence, Protein Conformation, Structure-Activity Relationship, Hydrogen Bonding, Molecular Sequence Data