Date of this Version
Methods Enzymol. 2009 ; 466: 359–381. doi:10.1016/S0076-6879(09)66015-8.
αβ T cell receptors (TCRs) recognize peptide antigens bound and presented by class I or class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins. Recognition of a peptide/MHC complex is required for initiation and propagation of a cellular immune response, as well as the development and maintenance of the T cell repertoire. Here we discuss methods to quantify the affinities and thermodynamics of interactions between soluble ectodomains of TCRs and their peptide/MHC ligands, focusing on titration calorimetry, surface plasmon resonance, and fluorescence anisotropy. As TCRs typically bind ligand with weak-to-moderate affinities, we focus the discussion on means to enhance the accuracy and precision of low affinity measurements. In addition to further elucidating the biology of the T cell mediated immune response, more reliable low affinity measurements will aid with more probing studies with mutants or altered peptides that can help illuminate the physical underpinnings of how TCRs achieve their remarkable recognition properties.