The predominant peptides bound to major histocompatibility complex class II molecules expressed on human B cells are derived from a relatively limited number of self proteins. To determine whether any of the prebound self peptides might be released in endosomes during recycling, water-soluble HLA-DR1 molecules were incubated with a high affinity synthetic peptide at pH 4.0 and 7.0 at 37 degrees C. The resulting bound peptide repertoire was then acid extracted, and separated by reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography. Using a combination of mass spectrometry and ultraviolet spectroscopy, prebound self peptides and newly bound synthetic peptide were characterized. Most self peptides bound to HLA-DR1 were not appreciably released during extended exposure to pH 4.0. However, some invariant chain-derived peptides were uniquely released at this pH.

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