Characteristics of carbohydrate antigen binding to the presentation protein HLA-DR

Glycobiology. 2008 Sep;18(9):707-18. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwn050. Epub 2008 Jun 4.


Zwitterionic polysaccharide antigens (ZPSs) were recently shown to activate T cells in a class II major histocompatibility complex (MHCII)-dependent fashion requiring antigen presenting cell (APC)-mediated oxidative processing although little is known about the mechanism or affinity of carbohydrate presentation (Cobb BA, Wang Q, Tzianabos AO, Kasper DL. 2004. Polysaccharide processing and presentation by the MHCII pathway. Cell. 117:677-687). A recent study showed that the helical conformation of ZPSs (Wang Y, Kalka-Moll WM, Roehrl MH, Kasper DL. 2000. Structural basis of the abscess-modulating polysaccharide A2 from Bacteroides fragilis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 97:13478-13483; Choi YH, Roehrl MH, Kasper DL, Wang JY. 2002. A unique structural pattern shared by T-cell-activating and abscess-regulating zwitterionic polysaccharides. Biochemistry. 41:15144-15151) is closely linked with immunogenic activity (Tzianabos AO, Onderdonk AB, Rosner B, Cisneros RL, Kasper DL. 1993. Structural features of polysaccharides that induce intra-abdominal abscesses. Science. 262:416-419) and is stabilized by a zwitterionic charge motif (Kreisman LS, Friedman JH, Neaga A, Cobb BA. 2007. Structure and function relations with a T-cell-activating polysaccharide antigen using circular dichroism. Glycobiology. 17:46-55), suggesting a strong carbohydrate structure-function relationship. In this study, we show that PSA, the ZPS from Bacteroides fragilis, associates with MHCII at high affinity and 1:1 stoichiometry through a mechanism mirroring peptide presentation. Interestingly, PSA binding was mutually exclusive with common MHCII antigens and showed significant allelic differences in binding affinity. The antigen exchange factor HLA-DM that catalyzes peptide antigen association with MHCII also increased the rate of ZPS association and was required for APC presentation and ZPS-mediated T cell activation. Finally, the zwitterionic nature of these antigens was required only for MHCII binding, and not endocytosis, processing, or vesicular trafficking to MHCII-containing vesicles. This report is the first quantitative analysis of the binding mechanism of carbohydrate antigens with MHCII and leads to a novel model for nontraditional MHCII antigen presentation during bacterial infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / physiology*
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / immunology
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / metabolism
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Antigens, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Binding, Competitive / drug effects
  • CHO Cells
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism* / immunology
  • Carbohydrates / immunology*
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • HLA-D Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-D Antigens / immunology
  • HLA-D Antigens / metabolism
  • HLA-DR Antigens / immunology
  • HLA-DR Antigens / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Protein Binding / immunology
  • Salts / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Carbohydrates
  • HLA-D Antigens
  • HLA-DM antigens
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Salts