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Int Immunol. 2004 Oct;16(10):1523-33. Epub 2004 Sep 6.

Antigen-independent acquisition of MHC class II molecules by human T lymphocytes.

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Department of Immunology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.


We report here that human T lymphocytes have the capacity of acquiring large amounts of MHC class II molecules from various types of antigen-presenting cells (APC) in an antigen-independent manner. The transfer of MHC class II molecules from APC to T cell required direct cell-to-cell contact and appeared to involve the interaction of numerous adhesion molecules between these cells. Depletion of cholesterol from the plasma membrane reduced the amount of MHC class II transferred onto the T cells. Most significantly, the newly acquired MHC class II molecules were capable of efficiently presenting antigen to T helper cells. These results suggest that T cells are able to interact with other T cells to regulate immune responses by presenting MHC peptide complexes that have been snatched away from nearby APC.

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