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J Immunol. 1999 Jan 15;162(2):669-76.

Hepatitis C virus envelope glycoprotein E1 originates in the endoplasmic reticulum and requires cytoplasmic processing for presentation by class I MHC molecules.

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  • 1Chiron Corp., Emeryville, CA 94608, USA.


We investigated whether hepatitis C virus envelope glycoprotein E1 is transported from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the cytoplasm of infected cells for class I MHC processing. Target cells expressing E1 were killed by CTL lines from a hepatitis C virus-infected chimpanzee, and synthetic peptides were used to define an epitope (amino acids 233-GNASRCWVA-241) presented by the Patr-B*1601 class I MHC molecule. An unusually high concentration (>100 nM) of this nonameric peptide was required for target cell lysis, but this could be reduced at least 1000-fold by replacing the asparagine at amino acid position 234 (Asn234) with aspartic acid (Asp), the anticipated anchor residue for NH2-terminal peptide binding to Patr-B*1601. Conspicuously, position 234 is part of an N-glycosylation motif (Asn-Xaa-Ser/Thr), suggesting that the Asn234 to Asp substitution might occur naturally within the cell due to deglycosylation/deamidation of this amino acid by the cytosolic enzyme peptide N-glycanase. In support of this model, we demonstrate that presentation of the epitope depended on 1) cotranslational synthesis of E1 in the ER, 2) glycosylation of the E1 molecule, and 3) a functional TAP transporter to shuttle peptide from the cytosolic to ER compartment. These results indicate for the first time that during infection of the host, viral envelope glycoproteins originating in the ER are processed in the cytoplasm for class I MHC presentation. That a posttranslational change in amino acid sequence from Asn to Asp alters the repertoire of peptides presented to CD8+ CTL has implications for the design of antiviral vaccines.

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