Dynamics of major histocompatibility complex class I association with the human peptide-loading complex

J Biol Chem. 2012 Sep 7;287(37):31172-84. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.387704. Epub 2012 Jul 24.


Although the human peptide-loading complex (PLC) is required for optimal major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC I) antigen presentation, its composition is still incompletely understood. The ratio of the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) and MHC I to tapasin, which is responsible for MHC I recruitment and peptide binding optimization, is particularly critical for modeling of the PLC. Here, we characterized the stoichiometry of the human PLC using both biophysical and biochemical approaches. By means of single-molecule pulldown (SiMPull), we determined a TAP/tapasin ratio of 1:2, consistent with previous studies of insect-cell microsomes, rat-human chimeric cells, and HeLa cells expressing truncated TAP subunits. We also report that the tapasin/MHC I ratio varies, with the PLC population comprising both 2:1 and 2:2 complexes, based on mutational and co-precipitation studies. The MHC I-saturated PLC may be particularly prevalent among peptide-selective alleles, such as HLA-C4. Additionally, MHC I association with the PLC increases when its peptide supply is reduced by inhibiting the proteasome or by blocking TAP-mediated peptide transport using viral inhibitors. Taken together, our results indicate that the composition of the human PLC varies under normal conditions and dynamically adapts to alterations in peptide supply that may arise during viral infection. These findings improve our understanding of the quality control of MHC I peptide loading and may aid the structural and functional modeling of the human PLC.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation / physiology*
  • HLA-C Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-C Antigens / immunology*
  • HLA-C Antigens / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / immunology*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Immunological*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / genetics
  • Multiprotein Complexes / immunology*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / immunology*
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Rats


  • HLA-C Antigens
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Peptides
  • tapasin