Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS

Direct evidence that the N-terminal extensions of the TAP complex act as autonomous interaction scaffolds for the assembly of the MHC I peptide-loading complex.

PMID 22638925


The loading of antigenic peptides onto major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC I) molecules is an essential step in the adaptive immune response against virally or malignantly transformed cells. The ER-resident peptide-loading complex (PLC) consists of the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP1 and TAP2), assembled with the auxiliary factors tapasin and MHC I. Here, we demonstrated that the N-terminal extension of each TAP subunit represents an autonomous domain, named TMD(0), which is correctly targeted to and inserted into the ER membrane. In the absence of coreTAP, each TMD(0) recruits tapasin in a 1:1 stoichiometry. Although the TMD(0)s lack known ER retention/retrieval signals, they are localized to the ER membrane even in tapasin-deficient cells. We conclude that the TMD(0)s of TAP form autonomous interaction hubs linking antigen translocation into the ER with peptide loading onto MHC I, hence ensuring a major function in the integrity of the antigen-processing machinery.