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Antigen presentation is a key rate-limiting step in the immune response. Dendritic cells (DC) are the most potent antigen-presenting cells for naive T cells, due to their high expression of MHC and co-stimulatory molecules, but little is known about the biochemical pathways that regulate this function. We here demonstrate that monocyte-derived mature DC can be infected with adenovirus at high efficiency (>95%) and that this procedure can be used to dissect out which pathways are essential for inducing DC antigen presentation to naive T cells. Using adenoviral transfer of the endogenous inhibitor of NF-kappaB, IkappaBalpha, we show that DC antigen presentation is NF-kappaB dependent. The mechanism for this is that NF-kappaB is essential for three aspects of antigen-presenting function: blocking NF-kappaB coordinately down-regulates HLA class II, co-stimulatory molecules like CD80, CD86 and CD40, and immuno-stimulatory cytokines like IL-12 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. In contrast adhesion molecules are up-regulated after infection with the adenovirus transferring IkappaBalpha, indicating that NF-kappaB also regulates the duration of T cell-DC interaction. These results establish NF-kappaB as an effective target for blocking DC antigen presentation and inhibiting T cell-dependent immune responses, and this finding has potential implications for the development of therapeutic agents for use in allergy, autoimmunity and transplantation.

Original publication




Journal article


Int Immunol

Publication Date





675 - 683


Adenoviridae, Antigen Presentation, Antigens, CD, B7-1 Antigen, B7-2 Antigen, CD40 Antigens, Cytokines, DNA-Binding Proteins, Dendritic Cells, Genetic Vectors, Histocompatibility Antigens Class II, Humans, I-kappa B Proteins, In Vitro Techniques, Membrane Glycoproteins, NF-KappaB Inhibitor alpha, NF-kappa B