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Letters to Nature
Nature 348, 446 - 448 (29 November 1990); doi:10.1038/348446a0

A nucleoprotein peptide of influenza A virus stimulates assembly of HLA-B27 class I heavy chains and β2-micro-globulin translated in vitro

Sune Kvist & Ute Hamann*

Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Stockholm Branch, Box 60202, S-10401 Stockholm, Sweden
*Present address: German Institute for Cancer Research, Department for Experimental Pathology, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, W-6900, Heidelberg, Germany.

MOST cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) recognize epitopes of foreign viral proteins in association with class I major histo-compatibility complex (MHC) molecules1. Viral proteins synthesized in the cytoplasm require intracellular fragmentation and exposure to the class I antigens for the development of CTL responses2–4. Although indirect evidence for binding of peptides to class I antigens has accumulated, direct binding has only been shown recently5,6. The formation of complexes between peptide and class I antigen may occur in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)7,8 and peptides have been shown to induce assembly of the class I complex9. We have translated the messenger RNAs encoding HLA-B27 (subtype 2705)10,11 and 02-microglobulin in a rabbit reticulocyte lysate supplemented with human microsomal membranes (to mimic ER membranes), in the absence and presence of a peptide derived from the nucleoprotein12 (residues 384–394) of influenza A virus. This peptide induces CTL activity against target cells expressing the HLA-B27 antigen13. Here we report direct evidence that the nucleoprotein peptide promotes assembly of the HLA-B27 heavy chain and β 2-microglobulin, and that this can occur in the ER immediately after synthesis of the two proteins.

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