In all human cells, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I glycoproteins assemble with a peptide and take it to the cell surface for surveillance by lymphocytes. These include natural killer (NK) cells and γδ T cells of innate immunity and αβ T cells of adaptive immunity. In healthy cells, the presented peptides derive from human proteins, to which lymphocytes are tolerant. In pathogen-infected cells, HLA class I expression is perturbed. Reduced HLA class I expression is detected by KIR and CD94:NKG2A receptors of NK cells. Almost any change in peptide presentation can be detected by αβ CD8 ⁺ T cells. In responding to extracellular pathogens, HLA class II glycoproteins, expressed by specialized antigen-presenting cells, present peptides to αβ CD4 ⁺ T cells. In comparison to the families of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I, MHC class II and αβ T cell receptors, the antigenic specificity of the γδ T cell receptors is incompletely understood.
Scientist, CHEO Research Institute