Bound water structure and polymorphic amino acids act together to allow the binding of different peptides to MHC class I HLA-B53.
Smith KJ., Reid SW., Harlos K., McMichael AJ., Stuart DI., Bell JI., Jones EY.
The structure of the human MHC class I molecule HLA-B53 complexed to two nonameric peptide epitopes (from the malaria parasite P. falciparum and the HIV2 gag protein) has been determined by X-ray crystallography at 2.3 angstrom resolution. The structures reveal the architecture of a Pro-specific B pocket common to many HLA-B alleles. Relative to other alleles, the B53 peptide-binding groove is widened by a significant (up to 1.25 angstrom) shift in the position of the alpha 1 helix. Within this groove, bound water molecules, acting in concert with the side chains of polymorphic residues, provide the functional malleability of the MHC, which enables the high affinity/low specificity binding of multiple peptide epitopes.