The I-Abm12 mutation has been used extensively to study the relationship between structure and function of murine class II major histocompatibility molecules. I-Abm12 differs from I-Ab by three amino acid replacements in the A beta chain, and the proposed structural model of the I-Abm12 molecule places these three amino acid substitutions along one of the alpha-helices where they may affect both antigen and TCR binding. Two of the substitutions, Ile----Phe67 and Thr----Lys71, are thought to point into the binding site, whereas the third substitution, Arg----Gln70, is thought to point up and hence, be available for binding to the TCR. These predicted orientations are consistent with serologic analysis of the bm12 molecule, which demonstrates that residue 70 is uniquely accessible to mAbs distinguishing I-Ab from I-Abm12. In this study we have determined the influence of each of these amino acid substitutions on the ability of the resulting molecules to stimulate a panel of I-Abm12 (allo) reactive T cell hybridomas. Our experiments indicate that reversion of the amino acid at position 70 from Gln (I-Abm12) to Arg (I-Ab) interferes with allorecognition by 33 of 35 I-Abm12-reactive hybridomas. On the other hand, many hybrids can tolerate amino acid substitutions at positions 67 or 71. Single amino acid substitutions at position 67, 70, or 71 are recognized by only a minority of I-Abm12-specific hybrids and usually the reactivity is greatly diminished. These data are most consistent with the idea that the amino acid at position 70 directly interacts with the TCR during allorecognition. The additional effects of residues 67 and 71 are consistent with a contribution by bound peptide to the allorecognition process.

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