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Title: T cell and B cell antigen receptors share a conserved core transmembrane structure
The B cell and T cell antigen receptors (BCR and TCR) share a common architecture in which variable dimeric antigen-binding modules assemble with invariant dimeric signaling modules to form functional receptor complexes. In the TCR, a highly conserved T cell receptor αβ (TCRαβ) transmembrane (TM) interface forms a rigid structure around which its three dimeric signaling modules assemble through well-characterized polar interactions. Noting that the key features stabilizing this TCRαβ TM interface also appear with high evolutionary conservation in the TM sequences of the membrane immunoglobulin (mIg) heavy chains that form the BCR’s homodimeric antigen-binding module, we asked whether the BCR contained an analogous TM structure. Using an unbiased biochemical and computational modeling approach, we found that the mouse IgM BCR forms a core TM structure that is remarkably similar to that of the TCR. This structure is reinforced by a network of interhelical hydrogen bonds, and our model is nearly identical to the arrangement observed in the just-released cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) structures of intact human BCRs. Our biochemical analysis shows that the integrity of this TM structure is vital for stable assembly with the BCR signaling module CD79AB in the B cell endoplasmic reticulum, and molecular dynamics simulations indicate that BCRs of all five isotypes can form comparable structures. These results demonstrate that, despite their many differences in composition, complexity, and ligand type, TCRs and BCRs rely on a common core TM structure that has been shaped by evolution for optimal receptor assembly and stability in the cell membrane.  more » « less
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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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