H2-M3 is an MHC class Ib molecule of the mouse with a unique preference for -formylated peptides, which may come from the N-termini of endogenous, mitochondrial proteins or foreign, bacterial proteins. The crystal structure of M3 revealed a hydrophobic peptide-binding groove with an occluded A pocket and the peptide shifted one residue relative to class Ia structures. The formyl group is held by a novel hydrogen bonding network, involving His9 on the bottom of the groove, and the side chain of the P1 methionine is lodged in the B pocket. M3 is a full-service histocompatibility (H) antigen, i.e. self-M3 can present endogenous peptides as minor H antigens and foreign, bacterial antigens in a defensive immune response to infection; and foreign M3 complexed with endogenous self-peptides can be recognized as an alloantigen. The hydrophobic groove of M3 may also allow it to present nonpeptide ligands in the manner of human CD1.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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