Irreversible association of peptides with class II MHC molecules in living cells

Antonio Lanzavecchia, Pamela A. Reid, Colin Watts

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    165 Citations (Scopus)


    FUNCTIONAL, morphological and biochemical evidence indicates that class II major istocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules associate with processed peptides during biosynthesis1-9. Peptide/MHC complexes in living cells have been reported to be less stable than similar complexes generated in vitro, which has led to the suggestion that there may be a peptide exchange mechanism operating in vivo l0-12. Although this could increase the capacity for binding incoming antigens, it would reduce the efficacy of processed antigenic peptides by exchanging these for self peptides. Here we measure the half-life of peptide/class II complexes in human antigen-presenting cells and find that it is very similar to the half-life of class II molecules themselves, indicating that peptides are bound irreversibly under physiological conditions. Thus class II MHC retains long-term 'memory' of past encounters with antigen to maximize the opportunity for T cell/antigen-presenting cell interaction.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)249-252
    Number of pages4
    Issue number6375
    Publication statusPublished - 21 May 1992


    Dive into the research topics of 'Irreversible association of peptides with class II MHC molecules in living cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this