Evolutionary and functional perspectives of the major histocompatibility complex class I antigen-processing machinery

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2004 Oct;61(19-20):2446-60. doi: 10.1007/s00018-004-4113-0.


Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules present antigenic peptides to CD8+ T cells, providing the basis for immune recognition of pathogen-infected cells. Peptides generated mainly by proteasomes in the cytosol are transported into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum by transporters associated with antigen processing (TAP). The maturation of MHC class I molecules is controlled by a number of accessory proteins and chaperones that are to a varying degree dedicated to the assembly of MHC class I. Several newly characterised proteins have been demonstrated to play important roles in this process. This review focuses on the functional relationship and evolutionary history of the antigen-processing machinery (APM) components and MHC class I itself. These are of great interest for further elucidating the origin of the immune system and understanding the mechanisms of antigen presentation and immunology in general.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Animals
  • Antigens / chemistry
  • Antiporters / chemistry
  • Biological Transport
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / chemistry
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / chemistry
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Isomerases / chemistry
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Models, Biological
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / chemistry
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex / metabolism
  • Protein Disulfide-Isomerases
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Antigens
  • Antiporters
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Peptides
  • tapasin
  • transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP)
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex
  • Isomerases
  • Protein Disulfide-Isomerases
  • PDIA3 protein, human