The effect of pH on functional association of peptide antigens with APC membranes was investigated by using aldehyde-fixed B cells and class II-restricted T cell hybridomas to assess antigen/MHC complex formation. The results indicated that the rate and extent of functional peptide binding was markedly increased at pH 5.0 as compared with pH 7.3. The pH dependence of binding was preserved after pretreatment of fixed APC with pH 5.0 buffer, suggesting that pH had a direct effect on the interaction of peptide with the APC membrane. Similar results were obtained by using several peptides and I-Ad- and I-Ed-restricted T cells, indicating that pH may be of general importance in regulating the formation of functional antigen/class II MHC complexes.

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