We have investigated the role of the carbohydrate moiety on the HLA-B7 molecule in mAb and CTL recognition using oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis and gene transfer techniques. A conservative substitution of asparagine to glutamine at amino acid 86 in HLA-B7 was created to abolish the unique glycosylation site present on all HLA molecules. A second mutant B7 molecule was made by substituting asparagine-aspartic acid-threonine for the resident lysine-aspartic acid/lysine tripeptide at amino acids 176-178, thus creating an N-linked glycan at amino acid 176, which is additionally present on all known murine H-2 class I antigens. Upon gene transfer into mouse and human cell recipients, the HLA-B7M176+ mutant and normal HLA-B7 expressed identical levels of surface protein. However, the binding of two mAbs (MB40.2 and MB40.3) thought to recognize different epitopes of the HLA-B7 molecule was completely eliminated. In contrast, the HLA-B7M86- mutant displayed no surface expression (mouse L cells) or minimal surface expression (human RD cells or mouse L cells coexpressing human beta 2 microglobulin [beta 2m]) after indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) and flow cytometric analysis with a panel of 12 HLA-B7 mAb reactive with monomorphic and polymorphic determinants. Immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrated that intracellular denatured mutant protein was present. Tunicamycin treatment did not rescue the expression of HLA-B7M86- antigens to the cell surface; while interferon did induce higher levels of surface expression. Tunicamycin treatment also did not allow binding of the mAbs MB40.2 or MB40.3 to HLA-B7M176+ mutant antigens, suggesting that the carbohydrate moiety itself was not directly involved in the recognition or conformation of these mAb epitopes. Further mutation of the B7M86- molecule to create a glycan moiety at amino acid position 176 (B7M86-/176+) did not rescue normal levels of surface expression. Finally, neither mutation was seen to affect recognition by a panel of 12 allospecific CTL clones. The low expression of HLA-B7M86- on the surface of human cell transfectants was sufficient to achieve lysis, albeit at a reduced efficiency, and lysis could be increased by interferon induction of higher levels of expression. Thus, the carbohydrate moiety on HLA antigens plays a minimal or nonexistent role in recognition by available mAb and allospecific CTL clones.

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