Concentration of MHC class II molecules in lipid rafts facilitates antigen presentation

Nat Immunol. 2000 Aug;1(2):156-62. doi: 10.1038/77842.


The plasma membranes of eukaryotic cells are not uniform and possess distinct cholesterol- and sphingolipid-rich raft microdomains that are enriched in proteins known to be essential for cellular function. Lipid raft microdomains are important for T cell receptor (TCR)-mediated activation of T cells. However, the importance of lipid rafts on antigen presenting cells (APCs) and their role in major histocompatibility (MHC) class II-restricted antigen presentation has not been examined. MHC class II molecules were found to be constitutively present in plasma membrane lipid rafts in B cells. Disruption of these microdomains dramatically inhibited antigen presentation at limiting concentrations of antigen. The inhibitory effect of raft disruption on antigen presentation could be overcome by loading the APCs with exceptionally high doses of antigen, showing that raft association concentrates MHC class II molecules into microdomains that allow efficient antigen presentation at low ligand densities.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology*
  • Cyclodextrins / pharmacology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology*
  • Humans
  • L Cells
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Membrane Microdomains / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Nystatin / pharmacology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • beta-Cyclodextrins*


  • Cyclodextrins
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • I-E-antigen
  • beta-Cyclodextrins
  • methyl-beta-cyclodextrin
  • Nystatin