Previous data from many groups show that both class I and class II-restricted T cells recognize short synthetic peptides in the context of their respective MHC molecules (9-18), all of the peptides described to date are restricted to only a single class of MHC molecules; however, structural homology between the class I and II MHC molecules and the use of similar TCRs by class I and II-restricted T cells suggest that antigen recognition mechanisms are similar in both systems. To directly compare antigen recognition in the two systems, we analyzed peptides for the ability to function in both a class I and II-restricted system and found that seven of seven individual peptides tested stimulate both class I and II-restricted T cell responses. In addition, two of the peptides can function in different species stimulating both human class I and murine class II T cell responses. Thus, the process of T cell recognition of antigen in the context of MHC molecules was highly conserved in evolution not only between the class I and class II MHC systems, but also between the murine and human species.

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