Seminars in Immunopathology

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 373–381

MHC presentation via autophagy and how viruses escape from it


DOI: 10.1007/s00281-010-0227-7

Cite this article as:
Gannage, M. & Münz, C. Semin Immunopathol (2010) 32: 373. doi:10.1007/s00281-010-0227-7


T cells detect infected and transformed cells via antigen presentation by major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules on the cell surface. For T cell stimulation, these MHC molecules present fragments of proteins that are expressed or taken up by the cell. These fragments are generated by distinct proteolytic mechanisms for presentation on MHC class I molecules to cytotoxic CD8+ and on MHC class II molecules to helper CD4+ T cells. Proteasomes are primarily involved in MHC class I ligand and lysosomes, in MHC class II ligand generation. Autophagy delivers cytoplasmic material to lysosomes and, therefore, contributes to cytoplasmic antigen presentation by MHC class II molecules. In addition, it has been recently realized that this process also supports extracellular antigen processing for MHC class II presentation and cross-presentation on MHC class I molecules. Although the exact mechanisms for the regulation of these antigen processing pathways by autophagy are still unknown, recent studies, summarized in this review, suggest that they contribute to immune responses against infections and to maintain tolerance. Moreover, they are targeted by viruses for immune escape and could maybe be harnessed for immunotherapy.


MHC class I MHC class II CD8+ T cell CD4+ T cell Cross-presentation Herpesvirus Endocytosis 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Viral Immunobiology, Institute of Experimental ImmunologyUniversity of ZürichZürichSwitzerland

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