Presentation of α-galactosylceramide by murine CD1d to natural killer T cells is facilitated by plasma membrane glycolipid rafts

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SUMMARYCD1 molecules are non-polymorphic major histocompatibility complex class I-related proteins that bind and present glycolipid antigens to T-cell antigen receptors (TCR) expressed by αβ T cells or natural killer-like T cells (NKT). Anti-metastatic properties of NKT cells reactive to the CD1d-binding antigen α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer) are now being explored as a contributor to tumour cell killing. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that presentation of α-GalCer by murine CD1d (mCD1d) to mCD1d-restricted NKT cells was facilitated by plasma membrane glycolipid rafts. Confocal microscopy of mCD1d-transfected A20 B cells (A20mCD1d) demonstrated that mCD1d was raft-localized. This observation was confirmed by immunoblotting of raft fractions isolated on sucrose density gradients. Raft disruption by the cholesterol-binding agent nystatin, or short-chain ceramides, inhibited presentation of low concentrations of α-GalCer to NKT cells. Inhibition of antigen presentation was reversed by treatment of A20mCD1d cells with higher α-GalCer concentrations, or removal of raft-disrupting agents. These data indicate that partitioning of mCD1d into membrane rafts increases the capacity of antigen-presenting cells to present limiting quantities of glycolipid antigens, perhaps by stabilizing mCD1d/antigen structures on the plasma membrane and optimizing TCR engagement on NKT cells.

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