Cell stress & chaperones

The heat shock protein gp96: a receptor-targeted cross-priming carrier and activator of dendritic cells.

PMID 11189453


Heat shock proteins like gp96 (grp94) are able to induce specific cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) responses against cells from which they originate and are currently studied in clinical trials for use in immunotherapy of tumors. We have recently demonstrated that gp96 binds to at least one yet unidentified receptor restricted to antigen-presenting cells (APCs) like dendritic cells (DCs) but not to T cells. Moreover we have shown, that for CTL activation by gp96-chaperoned peptides receptor-mediated uptake of gp96 by APCs is required. Lately, we have discovered a second function of gp96 when interacting with professional APCs. Gp96 is able to mediate maturation of DCs as determined by upregulation of MHC class II, CD86 and CD83 molecules, secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-12 and TNF-alpha and enhanced T-cell simulatory capacity. Furthermore, the gp96 receptor(s) are down-regulated on mature DCs, suggesting that the gp96 receptor(s) behave similar to other endocytic receptors like CD36, mannose receptor etc. Our findings now provide additional evidence for the remarkable immunogenicity of gp96: first, the existence of specific gp96 receptors on APCs and second, the capacity to activate dendritic cells which is strictly required to enable these highly sophisticated APCs to prime CTL responses.