Assembly of MHC Class I Molecules within the Endoplasmic Reticulum
MHC class I molecules bind cytosolically derived peptides within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and present them at the cell surface to cytotoxic T cells. A major focus of our laboratory has been to understand the functions of the diverse proteins involved in the intracellular assembly of MHC class I molecules. These include the molecular chaperones calnexin and calreticulin, which enhance the proper folding and subunit assembly of class I molecules and also retain assembly intermediates within the ER; ERp57, a thiol oxidoreductase that promotes heavy chain disulfide formation and proper assembly of the peptide loading complex; tapasin, which recruits class I molecules to the TAP peptide transporter and enhances the loading of high affinity peptide ligands; and Bap31, which is involved in clustering assembled class I molecules at ER exit sites for export along the secretory pathway. This review describes our contributions to elucidating the functions of these proteins; the combined effort of many dedicated students and postdoctoral fellows.
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