Journal Watch: MHC and intracellular self

Wed Aug 12 08:47:23 EST 1992

Journal Watch. "Dawn of the Hunt for Nonclassical MHC Function" by
Stephen M. Hedrick. Cell vol 70, p. 177-180. 24th July 1992.

   The following statement left me purring with pleasure: "A troublesome
concept concerns the competition among peptides for binding to the
available MHC molecules. It is hard to understand how peptides derived
from foreign antigens can compete with the tide of self peptides, and
there is currently a considerable amount of speculation concerning the
possibility that such a system could, in theory, function efficiently.
Perhaps there is a mechanism that could help to sort peptides into those
originating from self and those originating from foreign proteins."

   Having been pushing such a mechanism for some time (J.Theoret.Biol.
vol 115, 471-473. 1985), I was pleased that at least the possibility of
the existence of such a mechanism was being acknowledged. However, my
spirits were dampened by Stephen Hedrick's volte face at the end of the
article: "..there is no known way of distinguishing viral and host
peptides a priori, and therefore the immune system is largely saddled
with the necessity of presenting all peptides and allowing the population
of T cells to choose those to ignore".

    Sincerely,  Don Forsdyke

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