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J Immunol. 1991 Sep 15;147(6):1786-91.

The generation of immunogenic peptides can be selectively increased or decreased by proteolytic enzyme inhibitors.

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  • 1Institut Curie Unite d'Immunogenetique CNRS URA 1413 75231 Paris, France.


The ability of splenic APC and a B cell hybridoma (LS.102.9) to process and present OVA to a panel of T-T hybridomas with different fine specificities was investigated. Splenic APC process and present OVA to all the T-T hybrids. The B cell hybridoma could similarly process and present OVA to some T-T hybrids but was very inefficient in stimulating two of the T cell hybridomas. The presentation of native OVA to these two T-T hybrids was significantly increased by leupeptin. Pulsing experiments demonstrated that leupeptin acted on the APC at a step before the processed Ag was displayed on the cell surface in association with MHC molecules. Leupeptin has no effect on the presentation of OVA peptides by LS.102.9 to the T-T hybrids. Leupeptin inhibits the generation of the epitopes of OVA that LS.102.9 produces under basal conditions. We also surveyed the effect of other protease inhibitors and observed similar augmenting and inhibitory effects on the presentation of selected OVA epitopes. The augmentation of processing by a protease inhibitor indicates that in the lysosomal/endosomal compartment proteases have capacity to both generate and destroy immunogenic peptides. Our data suggest that protease inhibitors could potentially be used as immunomodulators and are discussed in terms of physiology of the lysosomal/endosomal compartment.

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