The deubiquitinating enzyme ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1) is required for the maintenance of axonal integrity in neurons and is thought to regulate the intracellular pool of ubiquitin in the brain. In this study, we show that UCH-L1 has an immunological function in dendritic cell (DC) Ag cross-presentation. UCH-L1 is expressed in mouse kidney, spleen, and bone marrow-derived DCs, and its expression and activity are regulated by the immune stimuli LPS and IFN-γ. UCH-L1-deficient mice have significantly reduced ability to cross-prime CD8 T cells in vivo and in vitro because of a reduced ability of DCs to generate MHC class I (MHC I) peptide complexes for cross-presented Ags. Mechanistically, Ag uptake by phagocytosis and receptor-mediated endocytosis as well as phagosome maturation are unaffected by loss of UCH-L1 in DCs. Rather, MHC I recycling is reduced by loss of UCH-L1, which affects the colocalization of intracellular MHC I with late endosomal/lysosomal compartments necessary for cross-presentation of Ag. These results demonstrate a hitherto unrecognized role of the deubiquitinating enzyme UCH-L1 in DC Ag processing.
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