T lymphocytes recognize discrete regions on an antigen. The specificity of the T cell responses in three mouse strains of differing major histocompatibility complex (MHC) haplotype to a protein antigen, lysozyme, was analyzed using a series of peptides that walk the antigen in single amino acid steps. These peptide series were synthesized using the pin synthesis system, which was modified to allow the peptides to be cleaved from the pins into a physiological buffer free of toxic compounds. This methodology overcomes many of the problems associated with the production of peptides for screening proteins for antigenic determinants. The T cell determinants for the three strains were markedly different. This result points out the limitations of algorithms predicting determinants without reference to the MHC, and the importance of the empirical methodology. This analysis of the T cell response to lysozyme constitutes the most complete study of reactivity to a foreign protein to date and illustrates many important features of antigen recognition by T cells, e.g., presence of major and minor determinant regions. The outer boundaries of each immunogenic region, the determinant envelope, are difficult to define from recently immunized lymph nodes because of the heterogeneity in T cell recognition. However, core sequences common to all the immunogenic peptides in a continuous sequence can be easily defined.

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