Co-regulated expression of alpha and beta mRNAs encoding HLA-DR surface heterodimers is mediated by the MHCII RNA operon

Pisapia, Laura; Cicatiello, Valeria; Barba, Pasquale; Malanga, Donatella; Maffei, Antonella; Hamilton, Russell S.; Del Pozzo, Giovanna

Major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII) molecules are heterodimeric surface proteins involved in the presentation of exogenous antigens during the adaptive immune response. We demonstrate the existence of a fine level of regulation, coupling the transcription and processing of mRNAs encoding α and β chains of MHCII molecules, mediated through binding of their Untraslated Regions (UTRs) to the same ribonucleoproteic complex (RNP). We propose a dynamic model, in the context of the ‘MHCII RNA operon’ in which the increasing levels of DRA and DRB mRNAs are docked by the RNP acting as a bridge between 5′- and 3′-UTR of the same messenger, building a loop structure and, at the same time, joining the two chains, thanks to shared common predicted secondary structure motifs. According to cell needs, as during immune surveillance, this RNP machinery guarantees a balanced synthesis of DRA and DRB mRNAs and a consequent balanced surface expression of the heterodimer.


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Nucleic Acids Research

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July 12, 2013