CIITA (a major histocompatibility complex [MHC] class II transactivator) has been shown to be required for the expression of MHC class II genes in both B cells and interferon gamma-inducible cells. Here we demonstrate that CIITA not only activates MHC class II genes but also genes required for antigen presentation. Mutant HeLa cells, defective in the expression of classic MHC class II genes, invariant chain, and the newly described human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen-DM genes, were used to study the role of CIITA in the regulation of these genes. Upon transfection with CIITA cDNA, the mutant cells expressed all three genes, suggesting that CIITA is a global regulator for the expression of genes involved in antigen presentation.

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