Nine independent pigeon cytochrome c-specific T cell clones were analyzed by using a panel of antigenic peptide analogs presented in association with three allelic IE-encoded MHC glycoproteins. Eight of the T cell clones expressed a TCR composed of a unique alpha- and beta-chain amino acid sequence, and concordantly, each of these T cell clones exhibited a unique Ag specificity. This was true for several clones which differed only in TCR V-J junctional regions. Interestingly, for a given clone, the response to some of the peptide analogs depended to a large extent on the allelic form of the presenting MHC molecule. A simple interpretation of these data would suggest that certain positions of the peptide Ag are most important for Ag-MHC molecule interactions, and that these specific interactions can influence the antigenic epitope recognized by the TCR. We suggest that an antigenic peptide binds to an MHC glycoprotein in a distinct way, but may retain a measure of flexibility.

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