Analysis of antigen presentation by metabolically inactive accessory cells and their isolated membranes

L. D. Falo, K. Sullivan, B. Benacerraf, M. F. Mescher, K. L. Rock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Several amino acid copolymers are potent immunogens under the control of major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-encoded Ir genes. We have further characterized their accessory-cell-dependent, MHC-restricted presentation to T lymphocytes. We initially characterized their processing requirements by investigating the ability of paraformaldehyde-fixed antigen-presenting cells (APC) to present these copolymers. Fixed APC can present poly(Glu56Lys35Phe9) and poly(Glu60Ala30Tyr10) provided that they have been incubated with antigen prior to fixation. The inability of these same fixed preparations to present soluble antigen indicates a fixation-sensitive antigen-processing step. In contrast, the antigens poly(Glu55Lys35Leu10) and poly(Glu55Lys35Tyr10) can be presented by APC fixed before antigen exposure. This differential requirement for antigen processing was exploited to analyze the events of antigen presentation in two related systems. First, the ability of isolated APC membranes to process and present antigen was assessed. APC membranes can present the antigens poly(GluLysLeu) and poly(GluLysTyr) in a specific and MHC-restricted manner. However, the isolated membranes fail to present either poly(GluLysPhe) or poly(GluAlaTyr), suggesting that such preparations can present but not process antigen. Second, the distinct properties of the various copolymers were used with fixed APC to test the effects of antigen processing on the phenomenon of antigen competition. APC that had processed poly(GluLysPhe) or poly(GluAlaTyr) were subsequently fixed and used to present antigen in the presence or absence of various antagonists. Under these conditions, poly(GluLysLeu) and poly(Glu50Tyr50) could effect specific inhibition, clearly indicating that antigen competition occurs distal to and does not require antigen processing. In contrast, native antigen with an absolute processing requirement is not capable of competing with preprocessed antigen on fixed APC. Taken together, these results suggest that processing is important for the molecular interactions between the copolymer antigens and the APC cell surface that are relevant to both antigen presentation and competitive inhibition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6647-6651
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes


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