Class I transplantation antigens form complexes with a virus protein encoded in the early region E3 of the adenovirus-2 genome. The interaction between this viral glycoprotein, E19, and nascent human class I antigens has been examined by microinjecting purified mRNA into Xenopus laevis oocytes. Both E19 and the two class I antigen subunits, the heavy chain and beta 2-microglobulin (beta 2M), were efficiently translated. The heavy chains did not become terminally glycosylated, as monitored by endoglycosidase H digestion, and were not expressed on the oocyte surface unless they were associated with beta 2M. The E19 protein did not become terminally glycosylated, and we failed to detect this viral protein on the surface of the oocytes. Co-translation of heavy chain and E19 mRNA demonstrated that the two proteins associate intracellularly. However, neither protein appeared to be transported to the trans-Golgi compartment. Similar observations were made in adenovirus-infected HeLa cells. Heavy chains bound to beta 2M became terminally glycosylated in oocytes in the presence of low concentrations of E19. At high concentrations of the viral protein, no carbohydrate modifications and no cell surface expression of class I antigens were apparent. Thus, beta 2M and E19 have opposite effects on the intracellular transport of the heavy chains. These data suggest that adenovirus-2 may impede the cell surface expression of class I antigens to escape immune surveillance.

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