Neurochem Res 2002 Aug;27(7-8):675-85
De Libero G, Donda A, Gober HJ, Manolova V, Mazorra Z, Shamshiev A, Mori L.
Experimental Immunology, University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.
T cells may recognize a large variety of ligands with different chemical structures.
Recently, glycosphingolipids have also been shown to stimulate human T lymphocytes.
Recognition of glycosphingolipids is restricted by the nonpolymorphic CD1 molecules, expressed by professional antigen-presenting cells and by macrophages infiltrating inflammatory sites.
CD1 molecules have a structure resembling that of classical MHC class I molecules, with the terminal extracellular domains characterized by two antiparallel alpha helices placed on two hydrophobic pockets.
The glycosphingolipids bound to CD1 insert the lipid tails in the two pockets and position the hydrophilic head on the external part of CD1.
The TCR interacts with aminoacids present in the two alpha helices and with residues provided by the carbohydrate moiety of glycosphingolipids and discriminates their structural variations.
T cells recognizing self-glycosphingolipids release proinflammatory cytokines and may have a pathogenetic role in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.