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J Immunol. 1998 Nov 1;161(9):4777-84.

Invariant chain can bind MHC class II at a site other than the peptide binding groove.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Medicine, National Jewish Center, Denver, CO 80206, USA.


Invariant chain binds to class II molecules and guides them to the cell surface via the endosomes. Class II-associated invariant chain peptide (CLIP), a conserved sequence in an unstructured region of invariant chain, binds in the peptide binding groove of class II and is thought to be the major contributor to the interaction between invariant chain and class II molecules. However, other interaction sites between the two proteins may exist. The published data on this subject are conflicting. We have studied the ability of invariant chain to interact with a class II molecule in which the peptide binding groove of the protein is already occupied by a covalently attached peptide. Precipitation of these class II/peptide complexes with an Ab specific for this particular combination also precipitates invariant chain. This binding between class II/peptide and invariant chain is weak, and coprecipitation is only apparent in mild detergents. Thus, when the class II peptide binding groove is occluded by peptide and is not free to interact with CLIP, invariant chain can still bind the class II molecule at other lower affinity sites.

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