Invariant (Ii) chain is a membrane-spanning protein that is found associated intracellularly with class II histocompatibility antigens. In the endoplasmic reticulum Ii chain spans the membrane and exposes the NH2 terminus on the cytoplasmic and the COOH terminus on the lumenal side. This orientation across the membrane is demonstrated directly with the monoclonal antibody In-1, which exclusively recognizes the NH2 terminal cytoplasmically exposed part of Ii chain. Membrane insertion of Ii chain requires signal recognition particle and docking protein. When tested in a wheat germ cell free system, signal recognition particle arrests translation of Ii chain. No signal sequence is cleaved from Ii chain upon membrane insertion.
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