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J Immunol. 2013 Oct 15;191(8):4020-8. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1301496. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

New role of signal peptide peptidase to liberate C-terminal peptides for MHC class I presentation.

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Department of Clinical Oncology, Leiden University Medical Center, 2333 ZA Leiden, The Netherlands;


The signal peptide peptidase (SPP) is an intramembrane cleaving aspartyl protease involved in release of leader peptide remnants from the endoplasmic reticulum membrane, hence its name. We now found a new activity of SPP that mediates liberation of C-terminal peptides. In our search for novel proteolytic enzymes involved in MHC class I (MHC-I) presentation, we found that SPP generates the C-terminal peptide-epitope of a ceramide synthase. The display of this immunogenic peptide-MHC-I complex at the cell surface was independent of conventional processing components like proteasome and peptide transporter TAP. Absence of TAP activity even increased the MHC-I presentation of this Ag. Mutagenesis studies revealed the crucial role of the C-terminal location of the epitope and "helix-breaking" residues in the transmembrane region just upstream of the peptide, indicating that SPP directly liberated the minimal 9-mer peptide. Moreover, silencing of SPP and its family member SPPL2a led to a general reduction of surface peptide-MHC-I complexes, underlining the involvement of these enzymes in Ag processing and presentation.

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