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Immunity. 1994 Nov;1(8):699-707.

Evidence for dimers of MHC class II molecules in B lymphocytes and their role in low affinity T cell responses.

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Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 60208, USA.


The crystallographic structure of the MHC class II molecule showed that the alpha beta heterodimer can itself dimerize to form a four chain (alpha beta)2 complex of 120 kDa. Here we provide evidence for the existence of a 120 kDa (alpha beta)2 complex of the class II I-Ek molecules in mouse B cells. Both a 60 kDa and a 120 kDa form of I-Ek are detected by Western blotting and by immunoprecipitation under conditions in which class II alpha beta heterodimers are stable. The 120 kDa I-Ek complex does not contain Ii and, upon warming, dissociates into free alpha and beta chains. The 120 kDa I-Ek complex is expressed at the cell surface, is active in antigen presentation, and appears to play a significant role in T cell responses to low affinity but not to high affinity antigens, possibly by facilitating cross-linking of the T cell receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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