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Dendritic cells (DC) are the most potent antigen-presenting cells for naive T cells, due to their high expression of MHC and costimulatory molecules, but relatively little is known about the biochemical pathways that regulate this function. We used the proteasome inhibitor N-benzyloxycarbonyl-Ile-Glu(O-tert-butyl)-Ala-leucinal (PSI) to demonstrate that DC antigen presentation is NFkappaB dependent. As PSI is not a specific inhibitor of NFkappaB, we reproduced this finding using a very specific approach, namely adenoviral gene transfer of IkappaBalpha, the naturally occurring inhibitor of NFkappaB. The mechanism for this inhibition of DC antigen presentation involves at least three aspects of antigen presenting function: down-regulation of HLA class II, down-regulation of CD86, and inhibition of the immunostimulatory cytokines IL-12 and TNF-alpha. In the light of the marked down-regulation of antigen-presentation cell function, it was of interest to investigate what effects exposure to PSI-treated DC might have on T cell function. It was found that immunological tolerance was induced, as challenge of T cells previously exposed to PSI-treated DC, with normal DC from the same donor did not restore their response, despite the presence of viable T cells. There were also changes in T cell surface markers, with down-regulation of CD3 and CD25 expression, and inhibition of the production of Th1 cytokines like IL-2 and IFN-gamma. These results demonstrates that NFkappaB is an effective target for blocking DC antigen presentation and inhibiting T cell-dependent immune responses, and this has implications for the development of therapeutic agents for use in multiple conditions, including transplantation, allergy and autoimmune diseases.


Journal article


Eur J Immunol

Publication Date





1883 - 1893


Antigen Presentation, Antigens, CD, Apoptosis, B7-2 Antigen, Cysteine Endopeptidases, Dendritic Cells, Histocompatibility Antigens Class II, Humans, Immune Tolerance, Interferon-gamma, Interleukin-12, Interleukin-2, Interleukin-4, Interleukin-6, Interleukin-8, Membrane Glycoproteins, Multienzyme Complexes, NF-kappa B, Oligopeptides, Protease Inhibitors, Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex, Receptors, IgE, Receptors, Interleukin-2, T-Lymphocytes, Th1 Cells, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha