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Abstract

The aim is to discuss Cohn's T-cell receptor (TCR) Tritope model of recognition, propose a novel suggestion for prior-to-positive selection of thymocytes contributing to inherent major histocompatibility complex (MHC) reactivity of a T-cell repertoire and clarify the Integrity model about the function of the immune system. If we compare the perception of light with the recognition of nonself, we could imagine that the opacity might be a measure of docking interaction between specific receptors for antigen on T or B cells (TCR / peptide–MHC or BCR / antigen). From this viewpoint, the self–nonself discrimination (S-NS) metaphor would be perception of black (self) versus white (nonself). However, whereas detection of shades-of-gray suffices to describe S-NS discrimination principle, colour vision of the antigenic world portrays best the Integrity model. In concert with recognition of opacity, the Integrity model proposes detection of at least three colours (signals): red (harmful), blue (useful) and yellow (the rest, including homoeostatic ones). As a result, recognition of nonself is transferred into communication within self while deciding on type of the immune response. Hence, the S-NS discrimination model seems to be an oversimplification, because it fails to see colours and consequently lacks the need for suppressor/regulatory function. Similarly, the Danger model stops short of detecting being useful signals that confer immune asylum to helpful micro-organisms like commensals. I suggest that the immune system's repertoire for recognition, in general, has evolved by a novel drive called ‘natural integrity’ alongside natural selection, thus facilitating communication between cells of the immune system.