Essential role for cholesterol in the delivery of exogenous antigens to the MHC class I-presentation pathway

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Abstract

Cross-presentation, which is crucial for the generation of immunity against virus-infected and tumor cells, requires exogenous antigens to be internalized into antigen-presenting cells (APCs) followed by translocation to the cytosol by unknown mechanisms. One important entry route for such antigens is macropinocytosis. We here describe that cholesterol is essential for cross-presentation of antigens loaded via macropinocytosis into APCs. Modification of antigens by palmitoylation to target antigens to cholesterol-enriched plasma membrane domains resulted in a dramatically increased T cell activation. These results define cholesterol as an essential factor for cross-presentation and suggest that specific modification of antigens to increase their affinity for cholesterol may be utilized to enhance immunity.

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