Antigen-specific signaling by a soluble, dimeric peptide/major histocompatibility complex class II/Fc chimera leading to T helper cell type 2 differentiation

Sofia Casares, Cong S. Zong, Dorel L. Radu, Alexander Miller, Constantin A. Bona, Teodor Doru Brumeanu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Interaction between a T cell receptor (TCR) and various ligands, i.e., anti-TCR antibodies, superantigens, peptides, or altered peptide ligands in the context of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules can trigger different T helper cell (Th) effector functions. Herein, we studied the T cell response induced by a soluble, dimeric peptide/MHC class II chimera, namely hemagglutinin (HA)110-120/I-E(d)αβ/Fcγ2a (DEF). We have previously demonstrated that the soluble DEF molecule binds stably and specifically to HA110-120-specific TCRs expressed by a T cell hybridoma. Administration of DEF in vivo induced differentiation of resting and activated peptide-specific T cells toward a Th2 response, as indicated by the increase of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10, and specific immunoglobulin (Ig)G1 antibodies and decrease of IL-2, specific IgG2a antibodies, and cytotoxic T lymphocyte activity. In contrast to HA110-120 peptide presented by the DEF molecule to T cells, the nominal synthetic peptide induced a predominant Th1 response, and the PR8 virus-derived HA110-120 peptides induced a mixed Th1/Th2 response. Independent of antigen processing, soluble DEF was almost 2 logs more potent in stimulating cognate T cells than the nominal peptide. Polarization of cognate T cells toward the Th2 response occurred upon interaction of soluble DEF with TCR and CD4 molecules followed by early activation of p56(lck) and ZAP-70 tyrosine kinases, and negative signaling of the signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)4 pathway of Th1 differentiation. DEF-like molecules may provide a new tool to study the mechanisms of signaling toward Th2 differentiation and may also provide a potential immunotherapeutic approach to modulate autoreactive T cells toward protective Th2 immune responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-553
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 16 Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Peptide/MHC II chimera
  • STAT proteins
  • Th2 differentiation


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