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Immunity. 2004 Aug;21(2):155-65.

Important role of cathepsin S in generating peptides for TAP-independent MHC class I crosspresentation in vivo.

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Department of Pathology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01655, USA.


The immune system detects viral infections and mutations in parenchymal cells when antigens from these cells are crosspresented on MHC class I molecules of professional antigen-presenting cells (APC). Exogenous antigens are crosspresented through TAP-dependent (cytosolic) or poorly understood TAP-independent (vacuolar) pathways. The TAP-independent pathway is blocked by the cysteine protease inhibitor, leupeptin, but not by proteasome inhibitors, which is opposite to the effects of these agents on the TAP-dependent pathway. Dendritic cells lacking the cysteine protease cathepsin S lack the TAP-independent pathway. Mice whose APC lack cathepsin S have reduced crosspriming to particulate and cell-associated antigens, as well as to influenza virus. Cathepsin S-deficient phagosomes generate a class I-presented peptide poorly. In contrast, cathepsin S-sufficient phagosomes and recombinant cathepsin S produce the mature epitope. Therefore, cathepsin S plays a major role in generating presented peptides for the vacuolar pathway of crosspresentation, and this mechanism is active in vivo.

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