MHC class II binding prediction by molecular docking

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Proteins of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) bind self and nonself peptide antigens or epitopes within the cell and present them at the cell surface for recognition by T cells. All T-cell epitopes are MHC binders but not all MCH binders are T-cell epitopes. The MHC class II proteins are extremely polymorphic. Polymorphic residues cluster in the peptide-binding region and largely determine the MHC's peptide selectivity. The peptide binding site on MHC class II proteins consist of five binding pockets. Using molecular docking, we have modelled the interactions between peptide and MHC class II proteins from locus DRB1. A combinatorial peptide library was generated by mutation of residues at peptide positions which correspond to binding pockets (so called anchor positions). The binding affinities were assessed using different scoring functions. The normalized scoring functions for each amino acid at each anchor position were used to construct quantitative matrices (QM) for MHC class II binding prediction. Models were validated by external test sets comprising 4540 known binders. Eighty percent of the known binders are identified in the best predicted 15% of all overlapping peptides, originating from one protein.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-375
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Informatics
Issue number4
Early online date31 Mar 2011
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2011


  • docking, epitopes, immunology, MHC class II, MHC-binding


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