IN 1973, immunology was preoccupied with graft rejection and immune responses against model antigens. The biological function of transplantation antigens coded by the major histocompatibility gene complex (MHC) was unknown; clearly its function was not to render organ transplantation difficult. This changed when MHC restriction of T-cell recognition was discovered by two young immunologists. The historical background to this effort is discussed in the accompanying article by Peter Doherty.1 This article describes the experiments that were done at that time, summarizes subsequent advances that led to our current understanding of how T cells work, and discusses some of the consequences for clinical medicine.
EXPERIMENTAL CHANCE AND DISCOVERY
After an internship in Basel and studies in Lausanne with H. Isliber, I obtained a Swiss fellowship to work with R. V. Blanden and Peter Doherty in G. Ada's department in Canberra. Peter Doherty and I joined forces to analyze the nature
Zinkernagel RM. MHC-Restricted T-cell RecognitionThe Basis of Immune Surveillance. JAMA. 1995;274(13):1069-1071. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530130075034