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Division of Tumor Virology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.
Based on the crystal structure of HLA-A2.1 and the recognition of a panel of mutant HLA-A2.1 molecules by a large number of alloreactive cytotoxic T lymphocyte clones, a model to explain alloreactivity is described. In this model recognition of an allogeneic major histocompatibility complex molecule by a self-restricted T-cell receptor occurs as the result of accommodation by the receptor of a few amino acid differences in the major histocompatibility complex molecule--i.e., cross-recognition. Alloreactivity is the result of the presence in the foreign antigen binding site of the allogeneic major histocompatibility complex molecule of unusual self-peptides, reactivity to which could not have been eliminated by negative thymic selection.