Journal of Undergraduate Research


LLO56, high affinity t-cell receptor, pathogen specific


Life Sciences


Microbiology and Molecular Biology


CD4+ helper T-cells play a vital role in the body’s immune response. When infectious agents attack the body, phagocytes engulf these invaders and present a peptide segment of the pathogen on a receptor (called MHCII). These receptors are located on the surface of the cell and the displayed peptide is termed an epitope. CD4+ T-cells with T-cell receptors (TCRs) specific for the displayed peptide bind to the MHCII complex. It is this binding that releases chemical signals to initiate an immune response. A disadvantage of TCRs is that their wild-type affinity for MHC is low and that they are membrane bound; not normally being secreted from the T-cell membrane. TCRs that are soluble, stable independent of the cell membrane, and have high affinity for a certain epitope can be localized at the area of infection for a longer period of time. The overall purpose of this project is to engineer a stable, soluble, high affinity T-cell receptor for the epitope from a specific bacterium (Listeria monocytogenes). The hypothesis is that developing these high affinity, soluble receptors will improve TCR targeting to a specific epitope and enable enhancement of the immune system. This could allow for the development of future therapeutics targeting the epitopes of cancers, autoimmune diseases, and viral infections.

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