We have studied the consequences of invariant chain (Ii) and DM expression on major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II function. Ii has a number of discrete functions in the biology of class II, including competitive blocking of peptide binding in the endoplasmic reticulum and enhancing localization in the endocytic compartments. DM is thought to act primarily in endosomes to promote dissociation of the Ii-derived (CLIP) peptide from the class II antigen-binding pocket and subsequent peptide loading. In this study, we have evaluated the functional role of Ii and DM by examining their impact on surface expression of epitopes recognized by a large panel of alloreactive T cells. We find most epitopes studied are influenced by both Ii and DM. Most strikingly, we find that surface expression of a significant fraction of peptide-class II complexes is extinguished, rather than enhanced, by DM expression within the APC. The epitopes antagonized by DM do not appear to be specific for CLIP. Finally, we found that DM was also able to extinguish recognition of a defined peptide derived from the internally synthesized H-2Ld protein. Thus, rather than primarily serving in the removal of CLIP, DM may have a more generalized function of editing the array of peptides that are presented by class II. This editing can be either positive or negative, suggesting that DM plays a specifying role in the display of peptides presented to CD4 T cells.

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