Uptake and processing of glycosylated mycolates for presentation to CD1b-restricted T cells

D. Branch Moody, Bruce B. Reinhold, Vernon N. Reinhold, Gurdyal S. Besra, Steven A. Porcelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Antigen presenting cells (APCs) expressing CD1b mediate the specific T cell recognition of mycobacterial lipid antigens. These lipid antigens require internalization by APCs prior to presentation, but the detailed mechanisms of uptake and intracellular processing are not known. Here we have examined several steps in the presentation of two related classes of CD1b- presented antigens, free and glycosylated mycolates. T cell recognition of glucose monomycolate (GMM) was blocked by agents that fix APC membranes or neutralize the pH of endosomes, indicating a requirement for GMM uptake into an acidic compartment prior to recognition. Different T cell lines responded to free mycolate or GMM without crossreactivity, yet both antigens were taken up by APCs at the same rate. This demonstrated that differential recognition of these antigens resulted from T cell specificity for their hydrophilic caps and that APCs were unable to interconvert these antigens by enzymatic or chemical deglycosylation or glycosylation. APCs were also unable to cleave mycobacterial trehalose dimycolate (TDM) at its most chemically labile linkages to yield antigenic free mycolates or GMM. Our results indicate that these mycolate-containing antigens are resistant to chemical or enzymatic cleavage by APCs, suggesting that molecular trimming is not a universal feature of lipid antigen processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalImmunology Letters
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Antigen processing
  • CD1
  • Endosome
  • Mycolic acid
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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