Li L, Kim S, Herndon JM, Goedegebuure P, Belt BA, Satpathy AT, Fleming TP, Hansen TH, Murphy KM, Gillanders WE.
PNAS, 31 July 2012

Activation of naïve cluster of differentiation (CD)8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) is a tightly regulated process, and specific dendritic cell (DC) subsets are typically required to activate naive CTLs. Potential pathways for antigen presentation leading to CD8(+) T-cell priming include direct presentation, cross-presentation, and cross-dressing. To distinguish between these pathways, we designed single-chain trimer (SCT) peptide-MHC class I complexes that can be recognized as intact molecules but cannot deliver antigen to MHC through conventional antigen processing. We demonstrate that cross-dressing is a robust pathway of antigen presentation following vaccination, capable of efficiently activating both naïve and memory CD8(+) T cells and requires CD8α(+)/CD103(+) DCs. Significantly, immune responses induced exclusively by cross-dressing were as strong as those induced exclusively through cross-presentation. Thus, cross-dressing is an important pathway of antigen presentation, with important implications for the study of CD8(+) T-cell responses to viral infection, tumors, and vaccines.