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J Immunol. 1991 Aug 1;147(3):774-80.

Presentation of autoantigen by human T cells.

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Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA.


Activated human T cells express MHC class II and have been shown to present foreign Ag to autologous T cells. We now demonstrate that MHC class II+ T cell clones can present myelin basic protein (MBP) peptide autoantigen in the absence of traditional APC to autologous MBP reactive T cell clones. MBP peptide-pulsed T cell clones specifically stimulated autologous MBP-reactive T cell clones to flux calcium and proliferate. Activation responses were peptide epitope specific and blocked by mAb to MHC class II, indicating a TCR-mediated response. In addition, mAb to the adhesion molecules LFA-3, CD2, LFA-1, CD29, and to the tyrosine phosphatase CD45 also inhibited proliferation, indicating the involvement of T to T cell interactions. In contrast to peptide Ag, T cell clones did not respond to autologous T cells pulsed with HPLC-purified MBP, suggesting that T cells are unable to process whole MBP. However, batch-purified MBP Ag preparations containing lower m.w. breakdown products were presented by T cells, indicating that naturally occurring breakdown products of autoantigens could be presented by activated T cells in vivo. These results raise the possibility that T cell presentation of autoantigen at inflammatory sites may be important in regulation of immune responses to self Ag.

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