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Tapasin plays a critical role in promoting peptide binding by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules in the endoplasmic reticulum. In its absence, cell surface expression of most allotypes is significantly reduced. Two exceptions are HLA-A*0201 and HLA-B*2705. In this study, the repertoire of peptides bound endogenously by these allotypes in the absence of tapasin was examined and stability of the HLA class I/peptide complexes assessed. Similar quantities of peptides were recovered from B*2705 complexes expressed in the absence and presence of tapasin and the composition of the peptide pools were not radically different. However, the stability of B*2705 molecules expressed at the surface of tapasin-deficient cells was found to be reduced which suggests there are subtle changes to the peptide repertoire. The impact of the absence of tapasin was more dramatic for A*0201. Although equivalent levels of cell surface A*0201 are expressed in the presence and absence of tapasin, very little A*0201 glycoprotein was recovered from tapasin-deficient cells suggesting the complexes readily dissociate. Consistent with reduced stability, A*0201 complexes were found to be rapidly lost from the surface of tapasin-deficient cells. Analysis of the small quantity of endogenously bound peptides recovered from A*0201 expressed in the absence of tapasin revealed a complex mixture typical of A*0201 molecules expressed in normal cells. Therefore these molecules are unable to exploit the alternative supply of TAP-independent A*0201-binding peptides present in the endoplasmic reticulum. Loading of A*0201 with peptides from both TAP-dependent and TAP-independent sources is significantly compromised without tapasin.

Original publication




Journal article


Tissue antigens

Publication Date





363 - 368


Antigens, Surface, Antiporters, Cells, Cultured, Flow Cytometry, HLA-A Antigens, HLA-A2 Antigen, HLA-B Antigens, Humans, Immunoglobulins, Membrane Transport Proteins, Protein Binding