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J Immunol. 2000 Feb 15;164(4):1898-905.

Abrogation of CTL epitope processing by single amino acid substitution flanking the C-terminal proteasome cleavage site.

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Department of Immunohematology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


CTL directed against the Moloney murine leukemia virus (MuLV) epitope SSWDFITV recognize Moloney MuLV-induced tumor cells, but do not recognize cells transformed by the closely related Friend MuLV. The potential Friend MuLV epitope has strong sequence homology with Moloney MuLV and only differs in one amino acid within the CTL epitope and one amino acid just outside the epitope. We now show that failure to recognize Friend MuLV-transformed tumor cells is based on a defect in proteasome-mediated processing of the Friend epitope which is due to a single amino acid substitution (N-->D) immediately flanking the C-terminal anchor residue of the epitope. Proteasome-mediated digestion analysis of a synthetic 26-mer peptide derived from the Friend sequence shows that cleavage takes place predominantly C-terminal of D, instead of V as is the case for the Moloney MuLV sequence. Therefore, the C terminus of the epitope is not properly generated. Epitope-containing peptide fragments extended with an additional C-terminal D are not efficiently translocated by TAP and do not show significant binding affinity to MHC class I-Kb molecules. Thus, a potential CTL epitope present in the Friend virus sequence is not properly processed and presented because of a natural flanking aspartic acid that obliterates the correct C-terminal cleavage site. This constitutes a novel way to subvert proteasome-mediated generation of proper antigenic peptide fragments.

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