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J Neuroimmunol. 2012 Jun 15;247(1-2):1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2012.03.008. Epub 2012 Apr 12.

Major histocompatibility complex class I molecules modulate embryonic neuritogenesis and neuronal polarization.

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Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine, University of California-Los Angeles, CA 90095-1735, USA.


We studied cultured hippocampal neurons from embryonic wildtype, major histocompatibility complex class I (MHCI) heavy chain-deficient (K(b)D(b)-/-) and NSE-D(b) (which have elevated neuronal MHCI expression) C57BL/6 mice. K(b)D(b)-/- neurons displayed slower neuritogenesis and establishment of polarity, while NSE-D(b) neurons had faster neurite outgrowth, more primary neurites, and tended to have accelerated polarization. Additional studies with ß2M-/- neurons, exogenous ß2M, and a self-MHCI monomer suggest that free heavy chain cis interactions with other surface molecules can promote neuritogenesis while tripartite MHCI interactions with classical MHCI receptors can inhibit axon outgrowth. Together with the results of others, MHCI appears to differentially modulate neuritogenesis and synaptogenesis.

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