Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

A sweet T cell response

Although protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccines provide notable clinical benefits, it is still not fully understood how they work. A new mechanism of action for these vaccines has been identified in which T cells can recognize sugar epitopes in the context of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) provided they are bound to a protein 'anchor', which allows binding of the sugar epitope to the MHC (pages 1602–1609).

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Two models for antigen processing and presentation of a conjugate vaccine.


  1. Heidelberger, M. & Avery, O.T. J. Exp. Med. 38, 73–79 (1923).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Avery, O.T. & Goebel, W.F. J. Exp. Med. 50, 533–550 (1929).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Goebel, W.F. & Avery, O.T. J. Exp. Med. 50, 521–531 (1929).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Goebel, W.F. J. Exp. Med. 72, 33–48 (1940).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Jenkin, C.R., Karnovsky, M.L. & Rowley, D. Immunology 13, 361–372 (1967).

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  6. Arakatsu, Y., Ashwell, G. & Kabat, E.A. J. Immunol. 97, 858–866 (1966).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Schneerson, R., Barrera, O., Sutton, A. & Robbins, J.B. J. Exp. Med. 152, 361–376 (1980).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Astronomo, R.D. & Burton, D.R. Nat. Rev. Drug Discov. 9, 308–324 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Siber, G.R. Science 265, 1385–1387 (1994).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Avci, F.Y. & Kasper, D.L. Annu. Rev. Immunol. 28, 107–130 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Granoff, D.M. et al. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 272, 1116–1121 (1994).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Avci, F.Y., Li, X., Tsuji, M. & Kasper, D.L. Nat. Med. 17, 1602–1609 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Harding, C.V. et al. J. Immunol. 151, 2419–2425 (1993).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Petteri Arstila, T. et al. Science 286, 958–961 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rino Rappuoli.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

R.R. and E.D.G. are employed by Novartis Vaccines. They have collaborated with D. Kasper on GBS vaccines.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rappuoli, R., De Gregorio, E. A sweet T cell response. Nat Med 17, 1551–1552 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing