Schmidtke, Gunter

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Structural plasticity of the proteasome and its function in antigen processing

2001, Gröttrup, Marcus, Broek, Marlies van den, Schwarz, Katrin, Macagno, Annalisa, Khan, Selina, Giuli, Rita de, Schmidtke, Gunter

The proteasome is the main provider of peptide ligands for major histocompatibility complex class I molecules. During an immune response to pathogens, the proinflammatory cytokine interferon (IFN)-gamma and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha are released, which induce the proteasome subunits LMP2, LMP7, and MECL-1. These replace the constitutively expressed active site subunits of the proteasome (delta, MB1, and Z) leading to a marked change in the cleavage preference of the proteasome and the production of T-cell epitopes. Proteasome activity is further changed by the IFN-gamma-mediated induction of the proteasome regulator PA28alpha/beta and the downregulation of PA28gamma. Why such an extensive exchange of proteasome active site subunits and regulators occurs is still poorly understood. In this article we discuss recent insights in the structural consequences of proteasome reorganization and their effects on epitope generation and shaping of the cytotoxic immune response. Moreover, we review the latest data on how the ubiquitin pathway targets protein antigens for peptide processing and discuss the potential of proteasome inhibitors for the modulation of antigen presentation.

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Overexpression of the proteasome subunits LMP2, LMP7, and MECL-1, but not PA28 alpha/beta, enhances the presentation of an immunodominant lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus T cell epitope

2000, Schwarz, Katrin, Van den Broek, Maries, Kostka, Susanne, Kraft, Regine, Soza, Andrea, Schmidtke, Gunter, Klötzel, Peter, Gröttrup, Marcus

The proteasome is a large protease complex that generates most of the peptide ligands of MHC class I molecules either in their final form or in the form of N-terminally extended precursors. Upon the stimulation of cells with IFN-gamma, three constitutively expressed subunits of the 20S proteasome are replaced by the inducible subunits LMP2 (low-molecular mass polypeptide 2), LMP7, and MECL-1 (multicatalytic endopeptidase complex-like-1) to form so-called immunoproteasomes. We show in this study that overexpression of these three subunits in triple transfectants led to a marked enhancement in the H-2Ld-restricted presentation of the immunodominant nonameric epitope NP118, which is derived from the nucleoprotein (NP) of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. Overexpression of the alpha and beta subunits of the IFN-gamma-inducible proteasome regulator PA28, in contrast, did not have a comparable effect. In vitro, immunoproteasomes as compared with constitutive proteasomes generated higher amounts of 11- and 12-mer fragments containing the NP118 epitope. These are likely to be cytosolic precursors of NP118, as a proline anchor residue in the second position of NP118 may interfere with TAP-mediated transport of the nonameric epitope itself. In conclusion, we provide evidence that up-regulation of the three inducible subunits, LMP2, LMP7, and MECL-1, can result in a marked improvement of Ag presentation and that, depending on the epitope, PA28 and immunoproteasomes may differentially affect Ag processing.

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The selective proteasome inhibitors lactacystin and epoxomicin can be used to either up- or down-regulate antigen presentation at nontoxic doses

2000, Schwarz, Katrin, Giuli, Rita de, Schmidtke, Gunter, Kostka, Susanne, Broek, Maries van den, Kim, Kyung Bo, Crews, Craig M., Kraft, Regine, Gröttrup, Marcus

The complete inhibition of proteasome activities interferes with the production of most MHC class I peptide ligands as well as with cellular proliferation and survival. In this study we have investigated how partial and selective inhibition of the chymotrypsin-like activity of the proteasome by the proteasome inhibitors lactacystin or epoxomicin would affect Ag presentation. At 0.5-1 microM lactacystin, the presentation of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus-derived epitopes NP118 and GP33 and the mouse CMV epitope pp89-168 were reduced and were further diminished in a dose-dependent manner with increasing concentrations. Presentation of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus-derived epitope GP276, in contrast, was markedly enhanced at low, but abrogated at higher, concentrations of either lactacystin or epoxomicin. The inhibitor-mediated effects were thus epitope specific and did not correlate with the degradation rates of the involved viral proteins. Although neither apoptosis induction nor interference with cellular proliferation was observed at 0.5-1 microM lactacystin in vivo, this concentration was sufficient to alter the fragmentation of polypeptides by the 20S proteasome in vitro. Our results indicate that partial and selective inhibition of proteasome activity in vivo is a valid approach to modulate Ag presentation, with potential applications for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and the prevention of transplant rejection.