The ability of a single T cell antigen receptor (TCR) to cross-react with multiple antigens allows the finite number of T cells within an organism to respond to the compendium of pathogen challenges faced during a lifetime. Effective immune surveillance, however, comes at a price. TCR cross-reactivity can allow molecular mimics to spuriously activate autoimmune T cells; it also underlies T cell rejection of organ transplants and drives graft-versus-host disease. In this issue of the
Brian D. Stadinski, Reinhard Obst, Eric S. Huseby
A focused binding hotspot explains how T cells harboring an insulin-targeting TCR can become activated.