Interactions between B cells and CD4 T cells are mediated by peptide-MHC class II complexes and support full development of a humoral immune response. B cells are antigen-specific antigen presenting cells, where immunologically relevant antigen processing occurs subsequent to B cell receptor (BCR)-mediated binding and internalization of cognate antigen. This laboratory has established that BCR-mediated antigen processing occurs subsequent to antigen (Ag)-BCR ubiquitination and results in expression of derivative peptide-class II complexes (termed "Type I" complexes) with unique functional and biochemical properties. The underlying hypothesis driving this project is that processing of Ag-BCR complexes occurs within an MHC class II peptide-loading complex (PLC) located in MHC class II enriched antigen processing compartments. To test this hypothesis, we will extend our new preliminary data and take a biochemical approach to further define the molecular composition of the class II PLC in B cells processing antigen internalized either via BCR-mediated or fluid-phase endocytosis (Aim 1). We will also utilize a "FRET microscopy" approach to study the dynamics of class II PLC formation in intact B cells (Aim 2). The overall goal of this proposal is to gain a better understanding of the molecular mechanism of class II peptide loading subsequent to BCR-mediated antigen processing, and to determine if class II peptide loading occurs within a PLC containing a dedicated source of antigenic peptide (i.e., Ag-BCR complexes).
Interactions between antigen specific B cells and CD4 helper T cells are restricted by B cell expressed peptide-MHC class II complexes. The goal of this project is to define the molecular mechanism by which antigen specific B cells generate these critical peptide-class II complexes. This information will be helpful in the design of new vaccines that enhance the production of these complexes or therapeutic protocols to dampen this mechanism in cases of autoimmunity.