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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of tapasin and its isoforms in antigen presentation and tumor immunity Seipp, Robyn Patricia


Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) Class I molecules present peptides to CD8⁺ T cells and are essential for most adaptive immune responses. The first described-spliced tapasin (“isoform 1”) plays a critical role in MHC-I antigen presentation by facilitating peptide loading onto MHC-I molecules in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). This thesis examines the expression, localization and function of two novel, alternatively-spliced isoforms of human tapasin that lack exon 7 (“isoform 2”) or both exons 6 and 7 (“isoform 3”). Isoform 1 contains a di-lysine ER-retention motif; the two novel isoforms encode different carboxy (C) termini that lack this motif. It was hypothesized that isoforms 2 and 3 would function in MHC-I cross-presentation of exogenous antigens in non-ER compartments. Isoform 2, like isoform 1, was found to be mainly ER-localized; however, both these isoforms were also found to co-localize in smaller amounts with the trans Golgi network and endo/lysosomes by confocal microscopy. Isoform 3 lacks a transmembrane domain and was found to be secreted from cells as well as being found within the ER. All isoforms were widely expressed at the RNA level in many tissues and cell types; however, mature dendritic cells (DCs) expressed the highest levels of all three isoforms, consistent with the high cross-presenting abilities of DCs. Both isoform 1 and 2 stabilized the transporters associated with antigen processing (TAP) in murine tapasin-/- cells, but isoform 3 did not due to its missing transmembrane domain. Isoform 1 and 2 mediated very similar effects on endogenous MHC-I presentation of self and viral peptides, on surface MHC-I thermostability, and on MHC-I maturation rates. Isoform 3 was found to decrease loading of exogenous peptides onto MHC-I. None of the isoforms influenced cross-presentation of the soluble antigen ovalbumin in a mouse dendritic cell line. This thesis also examines the effect of antigen presentation machinery (APM) re-expression in MHC-I-deficient tumor cell lines, B16F10 and CMT.64, which are deficient in TAP and tapasin. Virally-driven TAP1 and Tapasin expression increased MHC-I expression in the tumor cell lines, augmented tumor cell immunogenicity, and decreased tumor growth in vivo due to increased tumor cell elimination by the immune system.

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