Localization and MHC class II presentation of antigens targeted for macroautophagy
Methods Mol Biol. 2008;445:213-25.
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Intracellular antigens can be presented on major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules after degradation via macroautophagy. To enhance MHC class II presentation of potential vaccine antigens, we have developed a method to target antigens for autophagic degradation via fusion to the Atg8/LC3 protein: Atg8/LC3 is specifically incorporated into autophagosomes via coupling to phosphatidylethanolamine, and subsequently degraded in MHC class II loading compartments (MIICs). Antigens fused to the N-terminus of Atg8/LC3 follow the same pathway and get preferentially presented on MHC class II molecules. The localization of Atg8/LC3 fusion antigens in MIICs can be visualized by confocal microscopy, and MHC class II presentation can be quantified in a presentation assay with antigen-specific CD4(+) T-cell clones. These assays are good measures of autophagosome formation and lysosomal degradation of macroautophagy cargo and therefore are useful for studying regulation of the autophagic pathway under various experimental conditions and physiological perturbations.