MHC class II molecules present to CD4+ T cells protein fragments which mostly derive from the extracellular and from the endosomal compartments. Determinants of cytosolic proteins are, however, also displayed by MHC class II molecules following pathways which are still not yet fully characterized. Here we describe the isolation of DRB1*1103-restricted T cell clones specific for the measles virus (MV) nucleoprotein peptide 185-199 (N185). Experiments were then conducted to delineate how this determinant is assembled with DR molecules. In vitro binding analyses indicated that complexes between the N185 peptide and DRB1*1103 protein are optimally constituted at pH 4-4.5. In cellular experiments it was observed that chloroquine, leupeptin and emetine, which are classical inhibitors of presentation of MHC class II-restricted antigens, when added during infection of B cells with MV, prevent presentation of the N185 determinant. In addition, it was found that the N185 determinant is efficiently presented when the nucleoprotein is exogenously provided to B cells, either by blocking MV fusion with the peptide FFG or by the use of purified nucleoprotein. In contrast, it was observed that nucleoprotein recombinant vaccinia virus (vv-N)-infected B cells weakly stimulated N185-specific T cells, indicating that the restricted localization of the nucleoprotein in the cytosol resulted in a poor presentation of the N185 determinant. Taken together, these findings suggest that it is prior to delivery of the nucleoprotein into the cytosol that the N185 determinant is efficiently assembled with newly synthesized DR molecules in the acidic environment of the endosomal compartment.
- Antigen processing and presentation
- Human T cells
- MHC class II
- Measles virus
- Peptide binding