Specific proteolytic cleavages limit the diversity of the pool of peptides available to MHC class I molecules in living cells

Thomas Serwold, Nilabh Shastri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MHC class I molecules display peptides selected from a poorly characterized pool of peptides available in the endoplasmic reticulum. We analyzed the diversity of peptides available to MHC class I molecules by monitoring the generation of an OVA-derived octapeptide, OVA257-264 (SL8), and its C-terminally extended analog, SL8-I. The poorly antigenic SL8- I could be detected in cell extracts only after its conversion to the readily detectable SL8 with carboxypeptidase Y. Analysis of extracts from cells expressing the minimal precursor Met-SL8-I by this method revealed the presence of SL8/Kb and the extended SL8-I/Kb complexes, indicating that the peptide pool contained both peptides. In contrast, cells expressing full length OVA generated only the SL8/Kb complex, demonstrating that the peptide pool generated from the full length precursor contained only a subset of potential MHC-binding peptides. Deletion analysis revealed that SL8-I was generated only from precursors lacking additional C-terminal flanking residues, suggesting that the generation of the C terminus of the SL8 peptide involves a specific endopeptidase cleavage. To investigate the protease responsible for this cleavage, we tested the effect of different protease inhibitors on the generation of the SL8 and SL8-I peptides. Only the proteasome inhibitors blocked generation of SL8, but not SL8-I. These findings demonstrate that the specificities of the proteases in the Ag- processing pathway, which include but are not limited to the proteasome, limit the diversity of peptides available for binding by MHC class I molecules in the endoplasmic reticulum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4712-4719
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Specific proteolytic cleavages limit the diversity of the pool of peptides available to MHC class I molecules in living cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this