In the present study, we describe a method to specifically isolate intracellular compartments containing endocytosed antigen. We have demonstrated that isolated compartments represent a small proportion of the intracellular material, highly enriched in antigen. Antigen-containing vesicles are specifically sorted from other intracellular compartments, such as endoplasmic reticulum or Golgi apparatus, and from the plasma membrane. They remain functional in vitro since they can be acidified, and the antigen inside has been found to be partially proteolysed. In macrophages, kinetic analysis has revealed that the antigen is first found in compartments of endosomal density, carrying Rab 5 and Rab 7, then in late compartments of lysosomal density, which are rich in proteases. The global protein content of the compartments was mapped by two-dimensional electrophoresis. In B lymphocytes, this method has allowed the isolation of endocytic compartments emerging from receptor-mediated endocytosis of the antigen. After 2 h of chase, the antigen reached vesicles containing large amounts of MHC-class II molecules, invariant chain and human leucocyte antigen-DM, where peptide loading can occur.
- intracellular traffic
- MHC-class II molecules
- subcellular fractionation
- The Biochemical Society, London © 1999