Induction of MHC class I genes in neurons

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  28 Jul 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5223, pp. 549-552
DOI: 10.1126/science.7624779


Whether neurons express major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes has not been firmly established. The techniques of confocal laser microscopy, patch clamp electrophysiology, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction were combined here to directly examine the inducibility of MHC class I genes in individual cultured rat hippocampal neurons. Transcription of MHC class I genes was very rare in neurons with spontaneous action potentials. In electrically silent neurons, transcription was noted, with expression of beta 2-microglobulin under tighter control than in class I heavy chain molecules. Surface expression of class I molecules occurred only in electrically silent neurons treated with interferon gamma. Immunosurveillance by cytotoxic T cells may be focused on functionally impaired neurons.