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Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

HLA-DQA2 and HLA-DQB2 genes are specifically expressed in human Langerhans cells and encode a new HLA class II molecule.


PMID 22407913

Abstract

The precise role of human epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs) in immune response is highly controversial. While studying the gene expression profile of these cells, we were intrigued to identify the HLA-DQB2 gene as potentially expressed in LCs. Despite a strong evolutionary conservation of their sequences, the concomitant expression of the poorly polymorphic HLA-DQA2/HLA-DQB2 genes, paralogous to the HLA-DQA1/HLA-DQB1 genes, has never been detected in any cell type. We confirmed by RT-PCR that the HLA-DQA2 and -DQB2 genes are both expressed in LCs, but not in monocyte-derived dendritic cells, or in blood CD1c(+) or plasmacytoid dendritic cells. The presence of the HLA-DQβ2 chain in LCs could be demonstrated by Western blotting, whereas immunofluorescence revealed its localization in early endosomes. As in the case of other HLA class II molecules, the HLA-DQα2 and -DQβ2 chains formed heterodimers that had to associate with the invariant chain to reach endosomal compartments. HLA-DQα2/β2 heterodimers were expressed at the cell surface, where they could mediate staphylococcal superantigen stimulation of T cells. Interestingly, HLA-DQα2 and HLA-DQβ1 chains formed mixed heterodimers which efficiently left the endoplasmic reticulum. These observations strongly suggest that the poorly polymorphic HLA-DQA2 and -DQB2 genes should be considered to be of immunological importance. The HLA-DQα2/β2 molecules could influence the complexity of the repertoire of Ags presented by LCs.