CD40-induced aggregation of MHC class II and CD80 on the cell surface leads to an early enhancement in antigen presentation

J Immunol. 2003 Dec 15;171(12):6478-87. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.171.12.6478.


Ligation of CD40 on B cells increases their ability to present Ag and to activate MHC class II (MHC-II)-restricted T cells. How this occurs is not entirely clear. In this study we demonstrate that CD40 ligation on Ag-presenting B cells (APC) for a short period between 30 min and 3 h has a rapid, augmenting effect on the ability of a B cell line and normal B cells to activate T cells. This is not due to alterations in Ag processing or to an increase in surface expression of CD80, CD86, ICAM-1, or MHC-II. This effect is particularly evident with naive, resting T lymphocytes and appears to be more pronounced under limiting Ag concentrations. Shortly after CD40 ligation on a B cell line, MHC-II and CD80 progressively accumulated in cholesterol-enriched microdomains on the cell surface, which correlated with an initial enhancement in their Ag presentation ability. Moreover, CD40 ligation induced a second, late, more sustained enhancement of Ag presentation, which correlates with a significant increase in CD80 expression by APC. Thus, CD40 signaling enhances the efficiency with which APC activate T cells by at least two related, but distinct, mechanisms: an early stage characterized by aggregation of MHC-II and CD80 clusters, and a late stage in which a significant increase in CD80 expression is observed. These results raise the possibility that one important role of CD40 is to contribute to the formation of the immunological synapse on the APC side.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology*
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • B7-1 Antigen / metabolism*
  • B7-1 Antigen / physiology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD40 Antigens / immunology
  • CD40 Antigens / metabolism
  • CD40 Antigens / physiology*
  • Cattle
  • Cell Line
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / metabolism*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / physiology
  • Hybridomas
  • Interphase / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Membrane Microdomains / immunology*
  • Membrane Microdomains / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • B7-1 Antigen
  • CD40 Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Sphingolipids
  • Cholesterol