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Major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC I) molecules are central to adaptive immunity. Their assembly, epitope selection, and antigen presentation are controlled by the MHC I glycan through a sophisticated network of chaperones and modifying enzymes. However, the mechanistic integration of the corresponding processes remains poorly understood. Here, we determine the multi-chaperone-client interaction network of the peptide loading complex (PLC) and report the PLC editing module structure by cryogenic electron microscopy at 3.7 Å resolution. Combined with epitope-proofreading studies of the PLC in near-native lipid environment, these data show that peptide-receptive MHC I molecules are stabilized by multivalent chaperone interactions including the calreticulin-engulfed mono-glucosylated MHC I glycan, which only becomes accessible for processing by α-glucosidase II upon loading of optimal epitopes. Our work reveals allosteric coupling between peptide-MHC I assembly and glycan processing. This inter-process communication defines the onset of an adaptive immune response and provides a prototypical example of the tightly coordinated events in endoplasmic reticulum quality control.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Antigen Presentation, Endoplasmic Reticulum, Epitopes, HLA Antigens, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, Humans, Molecular Chaperones, Peptides, Polysaccharides, Quality Control