T cells as a self-referential, sensory organ.
In light of recent data showing that both helper and cytotoxic T cells can detect even a single molecule of an agonist peptide-MHC, alphabeta T cells are clearly a type of sensory cell, comparable to any in the nervous system. In addition, endogenous (self) peptides bound to MHCs are not just important for thymic selection, but also play an integral role in T cell activation in the response to foreign antigens. With the multitude of specificities available to most T cells, they can thus be considered as a sensory organ, trained on self-peptide-MHCs and primed to detect nonself.
Davis, MM; Krogsgaard, M; Huse, M; Huppa, J; Lillemeier, BF; Li, Q-J
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