Signal transduction by the major histocompatibility complex class I molecule

APMIS. 1999 Oct;107(10):887-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1699-0463.1999.tb01488.x.


Ligation of cell surface major histocompatibility class I (MHC-I) proteins by antibodies, or by their native counter receptor, the CD8 molecule, mediates transduction of signals into the cells. MHC-I-mediated signaling can lead to both increased and decreased activity of the MHC-I-expressing cell depending on the fine specificity of the anti-MHC-I antibodies, the context of CD8 ligation, the nature and cell cycle state of the MHC-I-expressing cell and the presence or absence of additional cellular or humoral stimulation. This paper reviews the biochemical, physiological and cellular events immediately after and at later intervals following MHC-I ligation. It is hypothesized that MHC-I expression, both ontogenically and in evolution, is driven by a cell-mediated selection pressure advantageous to the MHC-I-expressing cell. Accordingly, in addition to their role in T-cell selection and functioning, MHC-I molecules might be of importance for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis not only within the immune system, but also in the interplay between the immune system and other organ systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8 Antigens / immunology
  • H-2 Antigens / immunology
  • HLA Antigens / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • beta 2-Microglobulin / immunology


  • Antibodies
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • CD8 Antigens
  • H-2 Antigens
  • HLA Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Ligands
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • beta 2-Microglobulin