Tapasin discriminates peptide-human leukocyte antigen-A*02:01 complexes fromed with natural ligands

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A plethora of peptides are generated intracellularly, and most peptide-human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-I interactions are of a transient, unproductive nature. Without a quality control mechanism, the HLA-I system would be stressed by futile attempts to present peptides not sufficient for the stable peptide-HLA-I complex formation required for long term presentation. Tapasin is thought to be central to this essential quality control, but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Here, we report that the N-terminal region of tapasin, Tpn(1-87), assisted folding of peptide-HLA-A*02:01 complexes according to the identity of the peptide. The facilitation was also specific for the identity of the HLA-I heavy chain, where it correlated to established tapasin dependence hierarchies. Two large sets of HLA-A*02:01 binding peptides, one extracted from natural HLA-I ligands from the SYFPEITHI database and one consisting of medium to high affinity non-SYFPEITHI ligands, were studied in the context of HLA-A*02:01 binding and stability. We show that the SYFPEITHI peptides induced more stable HLA-A*02:01 molecules than the other ligands, although affinities were similar. Remarkably, Tpn(1-87) could functionally discriminate the selected SYFPEITHI peptides from the other peptide binders with high sensitivity and specificity. We suggest that this HLA-I- and peptide-specific function, together with the functions exerted by the more C-terminal parts of tapasin, are major features of tapasin-mediated HLA-I quality control. These findings are important for understanding the biogenesis of HLA-I molecules, the selection of presented T-cell epitopes, and the identification of immunogenic targets in both basic research and vaccine design.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Immunology in the medical area


  • Antigen presentation, Antigen processing, Chaperone chaperonin, MHC, Peptides, Tapasin
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20547-20557
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch

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