Major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC II) expression is tightly regulated, being subjected to cell type–specific mechanisms that closely control its levels at the cell surface. Ubiquitination by the E3 ubiquitin ligase MARCH 1 regulates MHC II expression in dendritic cells and B cells. In this study, we demonstrate that the related ligase MARCH 8 is responsible for regulating surface MHC II in thymic epithelial cells (TECs). March8−/− mice have elevated MHC II at the surface of cortical TECs and autoimmune regulator (AIRE)− medullary TECs (mTECs), but not AIRE+ mTECs. Despite this, thymic and splenic CD4+ T cell numbers and repertoires remained unaltered in March8−/− mice. Notably, the ubiquitination of MHC II by MARCH 8 is controlled by CD83. Mice expressing a mutated form of CD83 (Cd83anu/anu mice) have impaired CD4+ T cell selection, but deleting March8 in Cd83anu/anu mice restored CD4+ T cell selection to normal levels. Therefore, orchestrated regulation of MHC II surface expression in TECs by MARCH 8 and CD83 plays a major role in CD4+ T cell selection. Our results also highlight the specialized use of ubiquitinating machinery in distinct antigen-presenting cell types, with important functional consequences and implications for therapeutic manipulation.
- Submitted: 26 February 2016
- Accepted: 28 June 2016
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