Evasion and subversion of antigen presentation by Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tissue Antigens. 2009 Sep;74(3):189-204. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0039.2009.01301.x. Epub 2009 Jun 25.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis is one of the most successful of human pathogens and has acquired the ability to establish latent or progressive infection and persist even in the presence of a fully functioning immune system. The ability of M. tuberculosis to avoid immune-mediated clearance is likely to reflect a highly evolved and coordinated program of immune evasion strategies, including some that interfere with antigen presentation to prevent or alter the quality of T-cell responses. Here, we review an extensive array of published studies supporting the view that antigen presentation pathways are targeted at many points by pathogenic mycobacteria. These studies show the multiple potential mechanisms by which M. tuberculosis may actively inhibit, subvert or otherwise modulate antigen presentation by major histocompatibility complex class I, class II and CD1 molecules. Unraveling the mechanisms by which M. tuberculosis evades or modulates antigen presentation is of critical importance for the development of more effective new vaccines based on live attenuated mycobacterial strains.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigen Presentation / immunology*
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune Evasion*
  • Models, Immunological
  • Mycobacterium / immunology*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tuberculosis / immunology


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II