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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 May 31;102(22):7922-7. Epub 2005 May 13.

Autophagy promotes MHC class II presentation of peptides from intracellular source proteins.

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Department of Immunology, Institute for Cell Biology, University of Tübingen, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


MHC-peptide complexes mediate key functions in adaptive immunity. In a classical view, MHC-I molecules present peptides from intracellular source proteins, whereas MHC-II molecules present antigenic peptides from exogenous and membrane proteins. Nevertheless, substantial crosstalk between these two pathways has been observed. We investigated the influence of autophagy on the MHC-II ligandome and demonstrated that peptide presentation is altered considerably upon induction of autophagy. The presentation of peptides from intracellular and lysosomal source proteins was strongly increased on MHC-II in contrast with peptides from membrane and secreted proteins. In addition, autophagy influenced the MHC-II antigen-processing machinery. Our study illustrates a profound influence of autophagy on the class II peptide repertoire and suggests that this finding has implications for the regulation of CD4(+) T cell-mediated processes.

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