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Am J Pathol. 2013 Sep;183(3):893-904. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2013.06.003. Epub 2013 Jul 12.

Overexpression of MHC class I in muscle of lymphocyte-deficient mice causes a severe myopathy with induction of the unfolded protein response.

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National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), U905, Rouen, France.


Muscle fibers do not normally express major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules, and their reexpression is a hallmark of inflammatory myopathies. It has been shown in mice that overexpression of MHC-I induces a poorly inflammatory myositis accompanied by the unfolded protein response (UPR), but it is unclear whether it is attributable to T-cell-mediated MHC-I-dependent immune responses or to MHC-I forced expression per se. Indeed, besides presenting antigenic peptides to CD8(+) T cells, MHC-I may also possibly exert nonimmunologic, yet poorly understood pathogenic effects. Thus, we investigated the pathogenicity of MHC-I expression in muscle independently of its immune functions. HT transgenic mice that conditionally overexpress H-2K(b) in muscle were bred to an immunodeficient Rag2(-/-) background. The muscle proteome was analyzed by label-free high-resolution protein quantitation and Western blot. Despite the absence of adaptive immunity, HT Rag2(-/-) mice developed a very severe myopathy associated with the cytoplasmic accumulation of H-2K(b) molecules. The UPR was manifest by up-regulation of characteristic proteins. In humans, we found that HLA class I molecules not only were expressed at the sarcolemma but also could accumulate intracellularly in some patients with inclusion body myositis. Accordingly, the UPR was triggered as a function of the degree of HLA accumulation in myofibers. Hence, reexpression of MHC-I in normally negative myofibers exerts pathogenic effects independently of its immune function.

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