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J Immunol. 1989 Oct 15;143(8):2589-94.

The invariant chain is a phosphorylated subunit of class II molecules.

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Department of Immunology, Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, CA 92037.


The phosphorylation of the MHC, class II-associated invariant chain (gamma) is demonstrated in human B-lymphoblastoid, melanoma, and histiocytic lymphoma cell lines. Two-dimensional nonequilibrium gel electrophoresis of invariant chain and class II Ag immunoprecipitates isolated from [32P]orthophosphate-labeled cells demonstrates labeling of both free and class II-associated gamma, gamma s, and p41 forms of the invariant chain. The gamma 2/gamma 3 form of the invariant chain is not phosphorylated. Phosphoamino amino acid analysis of isolated invariant chain shows phosphorylation of serine residues. The isolation of invariant chain from 32P-labeled microsome preparations digested with proteinase K demonstrates that the phosphorylation occurs in the cytoplasmic tail. Limited proteolysis of [32P]orthophosphate-, [35S]cysteine-, and [35S]methionine-labeled invariant chain also indicates that the 32P-label is incorporated into the cytoplasmic domain. These results pinpoint serine residues at positions 9, 26, and 29 in the N-terminal cytoplasmic tail as potential sites for the phosphorylation of the invariant chain. Phosphorylation may be another mechanism by which the functions of invariant chain in class II-dependent immune responses are regulated.

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