Regulation of CD8+ T Cell Development by Thymus-Specific Proteasomes

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Science  01 Jun 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5829, pp. 1349-1353
DOI: 10.1126/science.1141915

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Proteasomes are responsible for generating peptides presented by the class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules of the immune system. Here, we report the identification of a previously unrecognized catalytic subunit called β5t. β5t is expressed exclusively in cortical thymic epithelial cells, which are responsible for the positive selection of developing thymocytes. Although the chymotrypsin-like activity of proteasomes is considered to be important for the production of peptides with high affinities for MHC class I clefts, incorporation of β5t into proteasomes in place of β5 or β5i selectively reduces this activity. We also found that β5t-deficient mice displayed defective development of CD8+ T cells in the thymus. Our results suggest a key role for β5t in generating the MHC class I–restricted CD8+ T cell repertoire during thymic selection.

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