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Abstract

T lymphocytes recognize their antigen as peptides associated with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. Peptides naturally presented by MHC class I molecules are uniform in length and have a specific motif, both defined by the respective MHC allele (Falk, K. et al. Nature 1991. 351: 290). These allele-specific motifs should allow exact prediction of natural T cell epitopes. H-2Kb-restricted epitopes, for example, have a length of eight amino acid residues and conserved anchor residues at positions 5 and 8. According to this information, we predicted the natural Kb-restricted epitope of ovalbumin, thought to be contained in the 19-mer IINFEKLTEWTSSNVMEER, to be SIINFEKL. Here we show that this prediction is correct. Thus, exact prediction of natural T cell epitopes is possible.