, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 189–196 | Cite as

What to do with HLA-DO/H-2O two decades later?

  • Robin Welsh
  • Nianbin Song
  • Scheherazade Sadegh-NasseriEmail author
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Biology and Evolution of Antigen Presentation


The main objective of antigen processing is to orchestrate the selection of immunodominant epitopes for recognition by CD4 T cells. To achieve this, MHC class II molecules have evolved with a flexible peptide-binding groove in need of a bound peptide. Newly synthesized MHC-II molecules bind a class II invariant chain (Ii) upon synthesis and are shuttled to a specialized compartment, where they encounter exogenous antigens. Ii serves multiple functions, one of which is to maintain the shape of the MHC-II groove so that it can readily bind exogenous antigens upon dissociation of the Ii peptide in MHC- II compartment. MIIC contains processing enzymes, one or both accessory molecules, HLA-DM/H2-M (DM) and HLA-DO/H2-O (DO), and optimal denaturing conditions. In a process known as “editing,” DM facilitates the dissociation of the invariant chain peptide, CLIP, for exchange with exogenous antigens. Despite the availability of mechanistic insights into DM functions, understanding how DO contributes to epitope selection has proven to be more challenging. The current dogma assumes that DO inhibits DM, whereas an opposing model suggests that DO fine-tunes the epitope selection process. Understanding which of these, or potentially other models of DO function is important, as DO variants have been linked to autoimmunity, cancer, and the generation of broadly neutralizing antibodies to viruses. This review therefore attempts to evaluate experimental evidence in support of these hypotheses, with an emphasis on the less discussed model, and to explore intriguing questions about the importance of DO in biology.


HLA-DO HLA-DM HLA-DR MHC class II Antigen processing H-2O 



Authors wish to thank Srona Sengupta for careful reading of the manuscript.

Funding information

This study was supported by grants from NIAID, R01AI063764, R21AI101987, and 1R01AI120634 to SS-N. SS-N and NS were recipients of an AAI Career in Immunology Fellowship Award.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Welsh
    • 1
  • Nianbin Song
    • 1
  • Scheherazade Sadegh-Nasseri
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Graduate Program in Immunology and Department of PathologyJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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