Direct recognition by alphabeta cytolytic T cells of Hfe, a MHC class Ib molecule without antigen-presenting function.
Rohrlich PS., Fazilleau N., Ginhoux F., Firat H., Michel F., Cochet M., Laham N., Roth MP., Pascolo S., Nato F., Coppin H., Charneau P., Danos O., Acuto O., Ehrlich R., Kanellopoulos J., Lemonnier FA.
Crystallographic analysis of human Hfe has documented an overall structure similar to classical (class Ia) MHC molecules with a peptide binding groove deprived of ligand. Thus, to address the question of whether alphabeta T cells could recognize MHC molecules independently of bound ligands, we studied human and mouse Hfe interactions with T lymphocytes. We provide formal evidence of direct cytolytic recognition of human Hfe by mouse alphabeta T cell receptors (TCR) in HLA-A*0201 transgenic mice and that this interaction results in ZAP-70 phosphorylation. Furthermore, direct recognition of mouse Hfe molecules by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) was demonstrated in DBA/2 Hfe knockout mice. These CTLs express predominantly two T cell antigen receptor alpha variable gene segments (AV6.1 and AV6.6). Interestingly, in wild-type mice we identified a subset of CD8+ T cells positively selected by Hfe that expresses the AV6.1/AV6.6 gene segments. T cell antigen receptor recognition of MHC molecules independently of bound ligand has potential general implications in alloreactivity and identifies in the Hfe case a cognitive link supporting the concept that the immune system could be involved in the control of iron metabolism.