Major histocompatibility complex class II-associated invariant chain (Ii) provides several important functions that regulate class II expression and function. One of these is the ability to inhibit class II peptide loading early in biosynthesis. This allows for efficient class II folding and egress from the endoplasmic reticulum, and protects the class II peptide binding site from loading with peptides before entry into endosomal compartments. The ability of Ii to interact with class II and interfere with peptide loading has been mapped to Ii exon 3, which encodes amino acids 82-107. This same region of Ii has been described as a nested set of class II-associated Ii peptides (CLIPs) that are transiently associated with class II in normal cells and accumulate in human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen-DM-negative cell lines. Currently it is not clear how CLIP and the CLIP region of Ii blocks peptide binding. CLIP may bind directly to the class II peptide binding site, or may bind elsewhere on class II and modulate class II peptide binding allosterically. In this report, we show that CLIP can interact with many different murine and human class II molecules, but that the affinity of this interaction is controlled by polymorphic residues in the class II chains. Likewise, structural changes in CLIP also modulate class II binding in an allele-dependent manner. Finally, the specificity and kinetics of CLIP binding to class II molecule is similar to antigenic peptide binding to class II. These data indicate that CLIP binds to class II in an analogous fashion as conventional antigenic peptides, suggesting that the CLIP segment of Ii may actually occupy the class II peptide binding site.

This content is only available as a PDF.