Biosynthesis of HLA-C heavy chains in melanoma cells with multiple defects in the expression of HLA-A, -B, -C molecules

A. Martayan, R. Fraioli, E. Giorda, A. Setini, G. Ciccarelli, L. Delfino, G. B. Ferrara, P. Giacomini

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Recent investigations have shown that malignant transformation may down-regulate the expression of class I HLA molecules, β2-microglobulin (β2m) and members of the antigen-processing machinery. In the present study, we HLA-genotyped and identified at a biochemical level the three (HLA-A25, -B8, -Cw7) class I alleles expressed by the previously described β2m-defective human melanoma FO-1 cell line and tested their ability to interact with calnexin, calreticulin and the TAP (transporter associated with antigen processing) complex. All these alleles were found to bind calnexin, but not calreticulin or the poorly expressed TAP complex, both in parental and β2m-transfected FO-1 cells, demonstrating a complex defect of class I expression in FO-1 cells. In these conditions, Cw7 heavy chains interacted with calnexin more strongly than A25 and B8, and preferentially accumulated in the endoplasmic reticulum, in both a calnexin-associated and a calnexin-free form. In addition, they could be transported to the cell surface at low levels even in the absence of β2m, without undergoing terminal glycosylation. These results establish a parallel between HLA-C and the murine Db and L(d) molecules which have been found to be surface expressed and functional in β2m-defective cells. They also demonstrate distinctive features of HLA-C molecules. We propose that the accumulation of several assembly intermediates of HLA-C might favour the binding of peptide antigens not readily bound by HLA-A and -B molecules in neoplastic cells with suboptimal class I expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-649
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • β-microglobulin
  • Calnexin
  • Calreticulin
  • HLA-C
  • Melanoma
  • TAP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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