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Functional MHC class I molecules are expressed on the cell surface in the absence of beta(2)-microglobulin (beta(2)m) light chain that can interact with CD8(+) T lymphocytes. Whether their assembly requires peptide binding and whether their recognition by CD8(+) T lymphocytes involves the presentation of peptide epitopes remains unknown. We show that beta(2)m-free H-2D(b) assembles with short peptides that are approximately 9 amino acid residues in length, akin to ligands associated with completely assembled beta(2)m(+) H-2D(b). Remarkably, a subset of the peptides associated with the beta(2)m-free H-2D(b) has an altered anchor motif. However, they also include peptides that contain a beta(2)m(+)H-2D(b) binding anchor motif. Further, the H-2K(b)- and H-2D(b)-restricted peptide epitopes derived from SV-40 T antigen also assemble with H-2(b) class I in beta(2)m-deficient cells and are recognized by epitope-specific CD8(+) T lymphocytes. Taken together our data reveal that functional MHC class I molecules assemble in the absence of beta(2)m with peptides and form CD8(+) T lymphocyte epitopes.
CD1 molecules are cell surface glycoproteins, structurally similar to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules. The murine CD1d1 molecule has been shown to be essential for the positive selection of a unique subpopulation of T cells [the natural killer (NK) T cells], as CD1d1-deficient mice lack NK T cells. These cells have recently been suggested to play an important role in the induction of innate immunity (i.e. NK cells) and the regulation of immune homeostasis. As such, it was asked whether NK T cells were necessary for the generation of cellular immunity to an acute virus infection. In these studies, the Armstrong strain of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), a classic inducer of NK cells, and its pathogenic variant clone 13 were used. When NK-cell activity was assessed on day 3 post-LCMV infection, surprisingly, it was found that CD1d1-deficient mice could generate NK-cell activity at wild-type levels. Likewise, LCMV-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) activity in CD1d1-deficient mice was indistinguishable from that generated in wild-type mice. Additionally, viral titres in the spleen (LCMV Armstrong) and blood (LCMV clone 13) of infected CD1d1-deficient mice were at comparable levels to those found in wild-type mice, as were virus infection-induced increases in cell surface H-2Kb in the spleen. Therefore, these results suggest that the LCMV-induced generation of NK-cell and virus-specific CTL activity, as well as viral clearance, are independent of CD1d1 expression.
H2-M3 is a class Ib MHC molecule that binds a highly restricted pool of peptides, resulting in its intracellular retention under normal conditions. However, addition of exogenous M3 ligands induces its escape from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and, ultimately, its expression at the cell surface. These features of M3 make it a powerful and novel model system to study the potentially interrelated functions of the ER-resident class I chaperone tapasin. The functions ascribed to tapasin include: 1) ER retention of peptide-empty class I molecules, 2) TAP stabilization resulting in increased peptide transport, 3) direct facilitation of peptide binding by class I, and 4) peptide editing. We report in this study that M3 is associated with the peptide-loading complex and that incubation of live cells with M3 ligands dramatically decreased this association. Furthermore, high levels of open conformers of M3 were efficiently retained intracellularly in tapasin-deficient cells, and addition of exogenous M3 ligands resulted in substantial surface induction that was enhanced by coexpression of either membrane-bound or soluble tapasin. Thus, in the case of M3, tapasin directly facilitates intracellular peptide binding, but is not required for intracellular retention of open conformers. As an alternative approach to define unique aspects of M3 biosynthesis, M3 was expressed in human cell lines that lack an M3 ortholog, but support expression of murine class Ia molecules. Unexpectedly, peptide-induced surface expression of M3 was observed in only one of two cell lines. These results demonstrate that M3 expression is dependent on a unique factor compared with class Ia molecules.
Effective immunity to infectious agents requires the initial recognition of antigen by specific receptors, which leads to the activation of immunocytes and the elicitation of an immune response. Because T cell antigen recognition and directed responses are complex processes, they are initiated and quelled in a highly regulated manner. Our laboratory has focused on defining the molecular processes that control T cell antigen presentation and recognition. Research in this area is focused on determining the chemical nature of antigens displayed by Major histocompatibility, complex (MHC)-encoded class I molecules and the nonclassical class I-like protein CD1d. Quantitative aspects of antigen presentation and recognition are also being studied to determine how these factors control the initiation of a T cell response. Our studies provide insights into the biochemical basis of T cell antigen recognition and response as well as the molecular processes underlying the initiation and regulation of immune responses by CD1d-restricted natural T lymphocytes.
The stable assembly of Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules with peptides is controlled by a number of cofactors, including proteins with general housekeeping functions and proteins with dedicated functions in MHC assembly. Recent work in my laboratory has focused on two chaperones, tapasin (tpn) and DM, that play critical roles in the loading of peptides onto MHC class I and MHC class II molecules, respectively. Tapasin is a transmembrane protein that tethers empty class I molecules in the endoplasmic reticulum to the transporter associated with antigen processing. DM is a peptide exchange factor that binds with empty and peptide-loaded class II molecules in endosomal and lysosomal compartments. Although a number of different functions for tapasin and DM have been proposed, emerging evidence suggests that both of these chaperones retain unstable MHC molecules in peptide-loading compartments until they bind with high-affinity peptides. These cofactors therefore promote the surface expression of long-lived MHC-peptide complexes.
Murine intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes (iIELs) are made up of a heterogeneous mix of T cells with unique phenotypes. Whereas CD8(+) T cells in peripheral lymphoid organs use CD8alpha/beta and are selected on MHC class Ia molecules, a majority of iIELs use CD8alpha/alpha. Here, we report that the presence of CD8alpha/alpha TCR-alpha/beta cells in iIELs is independent of classical MHC class I molecules K(b) and D(b), as illustrated by their presence in K(b)/D(b) double-knockout mice and in mice lacking a nonclassical MHC class I molecule, CD1d. Most strikingly, their presence is decreased by approximately 70% in mice lacking transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP). The TAP-dependent nonclassical MHC class I molecule Qa-2 is strongly implicated in the presence of these cells, as inferred from the low numbers of CD8alpha/alpha TCR-alpha/beta T cells in mice deficient in Qa-2 genes. Second, a Qa-2-transgenic mouse made in a Qa-2(-) strain showed an increase in the numbers of CD8alpha/alpha cells among its iIELs. Thus, the presence of CD8alpha/alpha TCR-alpha/beta cells in iIELs is mainly dependent on the nonclassical MHC class I molecule Qa-2.
The cellular basis for allograft rejection derives from the strong T cell response to cells bearing foreign MHC. While it was originally assumed that alloreactive T cells focus their recognition on the polymorphic residues that differ between syngeneic and allogeneic MHC molecules, studies with MHC class I-restricted CTL have shown that MHC-bound peptides play a critical role in allorecognition. It has been suggested that alloreactive T cells depend more strongly on interactions with the MHC molecule than with the associated peptide, but there is little evidence to support this idea. Here we have studied the alloreactive and self-restricted response directed against the class II H2-Ab molecule bound with a single peptide, Ep, derived from the H2-Ealpha chain. This MHC class II-peptide combination was a poor target and stimulator of alloreactive CD4+ T cell responses, indicating that MHC-bound peptides are as important for alloreactive CD4+ T cells as they are for alloreactive CTL. We also generated alloreactive T cells with exquisite specificity for the Ab/Ep complex, and compared their reactivity with self-restricted T cells specific for the same Ab/Ep complex. Our results showed that peptide-specific alloreactive T cells, as compared with self-restricted T cells, were more sensitive to peptide stimulation, but equally sensitive to amino acid substitutions in the peptide. These findings indicate that alloreactive and self-restricted T cells interact similarly with their MHC/peptide ligand.
RMA-S cells do not express functional TAP, yet they express MHC class I molecules at the cell surface, especially at reduced temperatures (26 degrees C). It is generally assumed that such class I molecules are "empty," devoid of any associated peptide. A radiochemical approach was used to label class I-associated peptides and to determine the extent to which Kb molecules in RMA-S cells are associated with peptides. These studies revealed that at 26 degrees C Kb molecules in RMA-S cells are occupied with self-peptides. Such peptides stably associate with Kb at 26 degrees C but easily dissociate from them at 37 degrees C, suggesting low-affinity interactions between Kb and the associated peptides. At 26 degrees C, at least some of these Kb molecules are stably expressed in a peptide-receptive state on the cell surface, whereas at 37 degrees C they are short lived and are only transiently capable of binding and presenting exogenously supplied OVA 257-264 peptide for presentation to CD8+ Kb-restricted T lymphocytes. Thus contrary to current models of class I assembly in TAP-deficient RMA-S cells, the presumably "empty" molecules are in fact associated with peptides at 26 degrees C. Together, our data support the existence of an alternative mechanism of peptide binding and display by MHC class I molecules in TAP-deficient cells that could explain their ability to present Ag.
As in other infectious diseases, the outcome of a Leishmania major infection is closely tied to the T helper cell response type; progressive disease is associated with a predominant Th2 lymphocyte response, healing with a Th1 response. In mice, susceptibility is genetically con trolled, with BALB/c (C) mice being susceptible and C57BL/6 (B) mice being resistant. Using a genome-wide scan on two large populations of F2 mice created from these strains, we have shown previously that susceptibility to infection with L. major is controlled by two autosomal loci: lmr1 at the H2 locus, and lmr2 on chromosome 9. Employing a strategy to identify loci that interact, we show here that lmr1 and lmr2 interact synergistically, and we describe a new locus lmr3, lying on the X chromosome, whose effect depends on a specific lmr1 haplotype.
Alloreactivity, the capacity of a large number of T lymphocytes to react with foreign MHC molecules, represents the cellular basis for the rejection of tissue grafts. Although it was originally assumed that the TCR of alloreactive T cells focus their recognition on the polymorphic residues that differ between the MHC molecules of responder and stimulator cells, studies in the MHC class I system have clearly demonstrated that MHC-bound peptides can influence this interaction. It remains unclear, however, whether peptides play an equally important role for the recognition of MHC class II molecules by alloreactive CD4+ T cells. Another issue that remains unresolved is the overall frequency of peptide-dependent versus peptide-independent alloreactive T cells. We have addressed these questions with antigen-presenting cells (APC) from H2-M mutant mice that predominantly express a single MHC class II-peptide complex, H2-Ab bound by a peptide (CLIP) derived from the class II-associated invariant chain. APC from these mice were used as targets and stimulators for alloreactive CD4+ T cells. Results demonstrated that the vast majority of CD4+ alloreactive T cells recognize MHC class II molecules in a peptide-dependent fashion.