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- Functional analysis of human transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) and its modulation by lipids (2011)
- The adaptive immune system of jawed vertebrates is based on recognition and elimination of cells that are either invaded by intracellular pathogens or malignantly transformed. One essential component of these processes is the cell surface presentation of antigenic peptides via major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules to cytotoxic T-cells (CTLs). Cells degrade defective ribosomal products and misfolded or unwanted proteins by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. The resulting degradation products are recognized and translocated by the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumen, where they are loaded onto MHC I molecules. Assembled peptide-MHC complexes are then shuttled by the secretory pathway to the cell surface for antigen presentation to CTLs, leading in the case of viral infection or malignant transformation to lysis and apoptosis of the target cell. Due to the fact that the TAP complex represents a key control point within the antigen presentation pathway, several viruses have evolved sophisticated strategies to evade immune surveillance by interfering with TAP function. Detailed studies of the TAP mechanism or its viral inhibition have been severely impeded by difficulties in expressing sufficient amounts of functional heterodimeric TAP complex. Thus, the overexpression of TAP in the methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris was established for functional analysis of this important ABC complex. Biomass production was scaled up by fermentation using classical batch and feed methods. Extensive screening of optimal solubilization and purification conditions allowed the isolation of the heterodimeric transport complex. Notably, only the very mild detergent digitonin preserved TAP function. Hereby, the optimal solubilization and purification strategy yielded in 30 mg TAP transporter per liter culture. Remarkably, the protein amount was 50-fold increased compared to previously described expression/purification in cultured insect cells. The high yield and quality of TAP produced in P. pastoris allowed an extensive analysis of substrate binding and transport kinetics of the transport complex in the membrane, its solubilized and purified state, as well as the reconstituted state. Thereby, a strong and direct effect of the lipid bilayer on ATP hydrolysis and peptide transport was discovered. These important results were extended further by successful functional reconstitution of the antigen translocation machinery in different lipid environments. For the first time, a stimulation of the transport activity by phosphatidylinositol (PI) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) was observed, whereas cholesterol was identified as an inhibitor of TAP activity. Purification of TAP and subsequent thin-layer chromatography (TLC)/liquid chromatography Fourier transform-mass spectrometry (LC FT-MS) fingerprinting of residual lipids exhibited specifically associated glycerophospholipids; mainly PC, PE, and PI species. Strikingly, these lipids not only represent the primary class of phospholipids of the ER but were also shown to be essential for functional reactivation of delipidated, and thus inactive, TAP. The results demonstrate that transport of antigenic peptides by the ABC transporter TAP strictly requires specific glycerophospholipids. In addition to the biochemical characterization of heterologous produced TAP, the soluble domain of the viral inhibitor US6 from human cytomegalovirus was expressed in E. coli. Optimization of the purification and refolding strategy yielded in functional protein, with a 35-fold increased protein amount compared to previous purification procedures. Protein activity was analyzed by specific inhibition of ATP binding to TAP. Furthermore, high protein yields allowed detailed investigation of TAP-dependent spatial and mechanistic separation of MHC I restricted cross-presentation in professional antigen presenting cells (pAPC).