Translational fidelity, essential for protein and cell function, requires accurate tRNA aminoacylation. Purified aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases exhibit a fidelity of 1 error per 10,000 to 100,000 couplings 1, 2. The accuracy of tRNA aminoacylation in vivo is uncertain, however, and might be considerably lower 3–6. Here, we show that in mammalian cells, approximately 1% of methionine (Met) residues used in protein synthesis are aminoacylated to non-methionyl-tRNAs. Remarkably, Met-misacylation increases up to 10-fold upon exposing cells to live or non-infectious viruses, toll-like receptor ligands, or chemically induced oxidative stress. Met is misacylated to specific non-methionyl-tRNA families, and these Met-misacylated tRNAs are used in translation. Met-misacylation is blocked by an inhibitor of cellular oxidases, implicating reactive oxygen species (ROS) as the misacylation trigger. Among six amino acids tested, tRNA misacylation occurs exclusively with Met. As Met residues are known to protect proteins against ROS-mediated damage 7, we propose that Met-misacylation functions adaptively to increase Met incorporation into proteins to protect cells against oxidative stress. In demonstrating an unexpected conditional aspect of decoding mRNA, our findings illustrate the importance of considering alternative iterations of the genetic code.
The activation of naive CD8+ T cells has been attributed to two mechanisms: cross-priming and direct priming. Cross-priming and direct priming differ in the source of Ag and in the cell that presents the Ag to the responding CD8+ T cells. In cross-priming, exogenous Ag is acquired by professional APCs, such as dendritic cells (DC), which process the Ag into peptides that are subsequently presented. In direct priming, the APCs, which may or may not be DC, synthesize and process the Ag and present it themselves to CD8+ T cells. In this study, we demonstrate that naive CD8+ T cells are activated by a third mechanism, called cross-dressing. In cross-dressing, DC directly acquire MHC class I-peptide complexes from dead, but not live, donor cells by a cell contact-mediated mechanism, and present the intact complexes to naive CD8+ T cells. Such DC are cross-dressed because they are wearing peptide-MHC complexes generated by other cells. CD8+ T cells activated by cross-dressing are restricted to the MHC class I genotype of the donor cells and are specific for peptides generated by the donor cells. In vivo studies demonstrate that optimal priming of CD8+ T cells requires both cross-priming and cross-dressing. Thus, cross-dressing may be an important mechanism by which DC prime naive CD8+ T cells and may explain how CD8+ T cells are primed to Ags that are inefficiently cross-presented.
Proteasomes are multisubunit proteases that initiate degradation of many Ags presented by MHC class I molecules. Vertebrates express alternate forms of each of the three catalytic proteasome subunits: standard subunits, and immunosubunits, which are constitutively expressed by APCs and are induced in other cell types by exposure to cytokines. The assembly of mixed proteasomes containing standard subunits and immunosubunits is regulated in a tissue specific manner. In this study, we report that the presence of mixed proteasomes in immune cells in LMP2−/− mice compromises multiple components that contribute to the generation of antiviral Ab responses, including splenic B cell numbers, survival and function of adoptively transferred B cells, Th cell function, and dendritic cell secretion of IL-6, TNF-α, IL-1β, and type I IFNs. These defects did not result from compromised overall protein degradation, rather they were associated with altered NF-κB activity. These findings demonstrate an important role for immunoproteasomes in immune cell function beyond their contribution to Ag processing.
To understand better the endogenous sources of MHC class I peptide ligands, we generated an antigenic reporter protein whose degradation is rapidly and reversibly controlled with Shield-1, a cell-permeant drug. Using this system, we demonstrate that defective ribosomal products (DRiPs) represent a major and highly efficient source of peptides and are completely resistant to our attempts to stabilize the protein. Although peptides also derive from nascent Shield-1–sensitive proteins and “retirees” created by Shield-1 withdrawal, these are much less efficient sources on a molar basis. We use this system to identify two drugs—each known to inhibit polyubiquitin chain disassembly—that selectively inhibit presentation of Shield-1–resistant DRiPs. These findings provide the initial evidence for distinct biochemical pathways for presentation of DRiPs versus retirees and implicate polyubiquitin chain disassembly or the actions of deubiquitylating enzymes as playing an important role in DRiP presentation.
Tumor cells that constitutively express MHC class I molecules and are genetically modified to express MHC class II (MHC II) and costimulatory molecules are immunogenic and have therapeutic efficacy against established primary and metastatic cancers in syngeneic mice and activate tumor-specific human CD4+ T lymphocytes. Previous studies have indicated that these MHC II vaccines enhance immunity by directly activating tumor-specific CD4+ T cells during the immunization process. Because dendritic cells (DCs) are considered to be the most efficient APCs, we have now examined the role of DCs in CD4+ T cell activation by the MHC II vaccines. Surprisingly, we find that DCs are essential for MHC II vaccine immunogenicity; however, they mediate their effect through “cross-dressing.” Cross-dressing, or peptide-MHC (pMHC) transfer, involves the generation of pMHC complexes within the vaccine cells, and their subsequent transfer to DCs, which then present the intact, unprocessed complexes to CD4+ T lymphocytes. The net result is that DCs are the functional APCs; however, the immunogenic pMHC complexes are generated by the tumor cells. Because MHC II vaccine cells do not express the MHC II accessory molecules invariant chain and DM, they are likely to load additional tumor Ag epitopes onto MHC II molecules and therefore activate a different repertoire of T cells than DCs. These data further the concept that transfer of cellular material to DCs is important in Ag presentation, and they have direct implications for the design of cancer vaccines.
Sensitivity is essential in CD8+ T-cell killing of virus-infected cells and tumor cells. Although the affinity of the T-cell receptor (TCR) for antigen is relatively low, the avidity of T cell-antigen-presenting cell interactions is greatly enhanced by increasing the valence of the interaction. It is known that TCRs cluster into protein islands after engaging their cognate antigen (peptides bound to MHC molecules). Here, we show that mouse K b class I molecules segregate into preformed, long-lasting (hours) clusters on the antigen-presenting cell surface based on their bound viral peptide. Peptide-specific K b clustering occurs when source antigens are expressed by vaccinia or vesicular stomatitis virus, either as proteasome-liberated precursors or free intracellular peptides. By contrast, K b -peptide complexes generated by incubating cells with synthetic peptides are extensively intermingled on the cell surface. Peptide-specific complex sorting is first detected in the Golgi complex, and compromised by removing the K b cytoplasmic tail. Peptide-specific clustering is associated with increased T-cell sensitivity: on a per-complex basis, endogenous SIINFEKL activates T cells more efficiently than synthetic SIINFEKL, and wild-type K b presents endogenous SIINFEKL more efficiently than tailless K b . We propose that endogenous processing generates peptide-specific clusters of class I molecules to maximize the sensitivity and speed of T-cell immunosurveillance.MHC class I clustering | CD8 T cell recognition | dual-color TIRF imaging | antigen processing/presentation | intracellular trafficking
It has been 15 years since we proposed the defective ribosomal product (DRiP) hypothesis to explain the rapid presentation of viral peptides by MHC class I molecules on the surface of infected cells. Here, we review the evidence for the contribution of DRiPs to antigen processing, pointing to the uncertainties regarding the physical nature of DRiPs, and emphasizing recent findings suggesting that peptide generation is a specialized process involving compartmentalized translation.
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