We have previously described the metalloproteinase-mediated pathway of soluble MHC class I release and proposed its role in transplantation. We found that the release of soluble MHC class I is mediated by a disintegrin and metalloprotease family member, ADAM17. Endothelial cells (EC) co-cultured with allogeneic T cells up-regulate specific activation markers and both the expression and activity of ADAM 17. This activation is driven by interferon-gamma and culminates in the release of soluble MHC class I proteins by EC. However, at least one other metalloproteinase distinct from ADAM17 is fully capable of releasing soluble MHC class I. Its activity may be regulated by cytokines in a tissue-specific manner. Screening of a human leukemia expression library with our mAb that blocks the release of soluble MHC class I led to identification of a novel protein BC036469 with yet unknown function. This ubiquitously expressed protein may participate in the mechanism of soluble MHC class I release by mediating specific enzyme/substrate interactions and its function may be regulated by cell-specific cytokines in different tissues. Three independent aims are designed to address these questions. First, we will identify cytokine-inducible metalloproteinases capable of processing MHC class I by using a panel of ADAM-deficient cell lines and by DNA microarray analysis. Second, the function of BC036469 protein will be determined by overexpressing wild type and deletion mutants, and by disrupting expression of the endogenous protein with specific siRNA. Finally, we will determine the sites required for productive enzyme/substrate interactions within alpha 3 and transmembrane domains of MHC class I and test the ability of specific peptides to inhibit the interaction. The predicted role of soluble MHC class I in antigen presentation will be tested using the trans-vivo delayed-type hypersensitivity assay in the linked suppression model of immune regulation by HLA-A2- restricted CD8 low avidity T regulator cells controlling transplantation tolerance.
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