The T cell stimulatory activity of peptides is known to be associated with the cell surface stability and lifetime of the peptide-MHC (pepMHC) complex. In this report, soluble high-affinity T cell receptors (TCRs) that are specific for pepMHC complexes recognized by the mouse CD8+ clone 2C were used to monitor the cell surface lifetimes of synthetic agonist peptides. In the 2C system, Ld-binding peptide p2Ca (LSPFPFDL) has up to 10,000-fold lower activity than peptide QL9 (QLSPFPFDL) even though the 2C TCR binds to p2Ca-Ld and QL9-Ld complexes with similar affinities. Unexpectedly, p2Ca-Ld complexes were found to have a longer cell surface lifetime than QL9-Ld complexes. However, the strong agonist activity of QL9 correlated with its ability to participate in efficient intracellular delivery followed by cell surface expression of the peptide, resulting in high and persistent surface levels of QL9-Ld. The ability of target cells to take up and present QL9 was observed with TAP-deficient cells and TAP-positive cells, including dendritic cells. The process was brefeldin A-sensitive, indicating a requirement for transport of the pepMHC through the ER and/or golgi. Thus, strong T cell stimulatory activity of some pepMHC complexes can be accomplished not only through long cell surface lifetimes of the ligand, but through a mechanism that leads to delayed presentation of the exogenous antigen after intracellular uptake.
- Antigen presentation/processing
- T cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology