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J Immunol. 2001 Apr 15;166(8):4968-72.

Adjuvanticity of alpha 2-macroglobulin, an independent ligand for the heat shock protein receptor CD91.

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  • 1Center for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Infectious Diseases, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.


We recently have identified CD91 as a receptor for the heat shock protein gp96. CD91 was identified initially as a receptor for alpha(2)-macroglobulin (alpha(2)M). Gp96 and alpha(2)M are both ligands for CD91. Because gp96-chaperoned peptides can prime CD8(+) T cell responses and are re-presented by APCs, we tested alpha(2)M for similar properties. Our studies show that alpha(2)M binds peptides in vitro and that the peptides, chaperoned by alpha(2)M, efficiently prime peptide-specific CD8(+) T cell responses in mice immunized with alpha(2)M-peptide complexes. Furthermore, peptides chaperoned by alpha(2)M, like those chaperoned by gp96, can be re-presented by CD91(+) APCs on their MHC I molecules. These studies demonstrate that alpha(2)M molecules, like the heat shock protein molecules, are T cell adjuvants that can channel exogenous Ags into the endogenous pathway of Ag presentaion. The remarkable similarities between an intracellular chaperone and an extracellular serum chaperone may have interesting physiological ramifications.

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