Accelerated HER-2 degradation enhanced ovarian tumor recognition by CTL. Implications for tumor immunogenicity
The effect on MHC class I Ag presentation of enhancing a protein's rate of degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway was investigated. In extracts of mouse B-lymphoblasts and reticulocytes, as in rabbit reticulocytes, proteins with acidic or basic N-termini are conjugated to ubiquitin and degraded by the 26S proteasome very rapidly. We found that the rate of MHC class I presentation of microinjected beta-galactosidase was enhanced when this antigenic protein was modified with such a destabilizing amino-terminal residue. This enhanced presentation was inhibited by blocking potential ubiquitination sites on the protein through methylation of amino groups and by peptide aldehyde inhibitors of the proteasome. Furthermore, in B lymphoblast cell extracts, the rapid degradation of these beta-galactosidase constructs required ATP and ubiquitin and was blocked by inhibitors of proteasomes. Their rates of degradation in extracts correlated with their rates of class I Ag presentation in vivo. These results indicate that ubiquitin conjugation is a key rate-limiting step in Ag presentation and provide further evidence for a critical role of ubiquitin and the 26S proteasome in generating MHC class I-presented peptides.