Antigenic peptides presented to major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules are generated in the cytosol during degradation of cellular proteins by the ubiquitin-proteasome proteolytic pathway. Proteasome can generate N-extended precursors as well as final epitopes, and then the precursors are processed to mature epitopes by aminopeptidases. Both cytosolic peptidases (i.e. puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidase, bleomycin hydrolase and interferon-γ-inducible leucine aminopeptidase) and recently identified metallo-aminopeptidase located in the endoplasmic reticulum (i.e. adipocyte-derived leucine aminopeptidase/endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase 1 and leukocyte-derived arginine aminopeptidase) can generate final epitopes from precursor peptides. Some of these aminopeptidases are also considered to destroy certain antigenic peptides to limit the antigen presentation. Taken together, it is getting evident that aminopeptidases located in the cytosol and the lumen of endoplasmic reticulum play important roles in the generation of antigenic peptides presented to MHC class I molecules.
2004 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan