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Immunology. 2001 May;103(1):41-8.

Macrophages present exogenous antigens by class I major histocompatibility complex molecules via a secretory pathway as a consequence of interferon-gamma activation.

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Unidad de Investigación Medica en Inmunoquímica, Hospital de Especialidades, Centro Medico Nacional SXXI Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Mexico.


Macrophages can process and present exogenous antigens on major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules through an alternative mechanism involving the internalization of antigens and the secretion of peptides loading MHC class I molecules at the cell surface. In this paper, we found that interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) -activated macrophages infected with Salmonella typhimurum secreted peptides able to load empty MHC Kb molecules on co-cultured TAP-2-deficient RMA-S cells, added as targets for peptide loading. The increase in class I Kb on the RMA-S cells, resulting from the macrophage-derived peptides, exhibited a comparable stability as the direct addition of an exogenous Kb-binding peptide (OVA257-264) to the RMA-S cells. In both cases, the Kb complexes were stable for at least 3 hr after separating the RMA-S cells from the macrophages. The endosomal inhibitors, leupeptin and ammonium chloride, did not inhibit the release of peptides and the increase in Kb staining on the RMA-S cells in the co-culture systems. Brefeldin A also had no effect. P815 cells previously co-cultured with Salmonella-infected macrophages became targets for cytotoxic T lymphocytes isolated from Salmonella-infected BALB/c mice. Taken together, our data suggest that IFN-gamma-activated macrophages process exogenous antigens in an intracellular compartment where serine proteases generate peptides released to the external environment for loading empty MHC class I molecules at the cell surface. This TAP-independent mechanism for the MHC class I presentation may be involved in priming cytotoxic T lymphocytes against intracellular pathogens in vivo.

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