Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Immune surveillance via self digestion

Autophagy. 2007 Mar-Apr;3(2):133-5. Epub 2007 Apr 9.

Authors/Editors: Münz C
Publication Date: 2007
Type of Publication: Journal Article

The adaptive immune system is orchestrated by CD4+ T cells. These cells detect peptides presented on Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class II molecules, which are loaded in late endosomes with products of lysosomal proteolysis. One pathway by which proteins gain access to degradation in lysosomes is macroautophagy. We recently showed that constitutive macroautophagy can be detected in cells relevant for the immune system, including dendritic cells. In these antigen presenting cells, autophagosomes frequently fused with MHC class II antigen loading compartments and targeting of Influenza matrix protein 1 (MP1) for macroautophagy enhanced MHC class II presentation to MP1-specific CD4+ T cell clones up to 20 fold. Our findings indicate that macroautophagy is a constitutive and efficient pathway of antigen delivery for MHC class II presentation. We suggest that this pathway samples intracellular proteins for immune surveillance and induction of tolerance in CD4+ T cells, and could be targeted for improved MHC class II presentation of vaccine antigens.

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