MHC class II
The peptides presented by class II molecules are derived from extracellular proteins (not cytosolic as in class I); hence, the MHC class II-dependent pathway of antigen presentation is called the endocytic or exogenous pathway.
Loading of class II molecules must still occur inside the cell; extracellular proteins are endocytosed, digested in lysosomes, and bound by the class II MHC molecule prior to the molecule's migration to the plasma membrane.
Like MHC class I molecules, class II molecules are also heterodimers, but in this case consist of two homologous peptides, an α and β chain, both of which are encoded in the MHC.
Because the peptide-binding groove of MHC class II molecules is open at both ends while the corresponding groove on class I molecules is closed at each end, the peptides presented by MHC class II molecules are longer, generally between 15 and 24 amino acid residues long.
Reaction to bacteria
Because class II MHC is loaded with extracellular proteins, it is mainly concerned with presentation of extracellular pathogens (for example, bacteria that might be infecting a wound or the blood). Class II molecules interact exclusively with CD4+ ("helper") T cells (THs). The helper T cells then help to trigger an appropriate immune response which may include localized inflammation and swelling due to recruitment of phagocytes or may lead to a full-force antibody immune response due to activation of B cells.
During synthesis, MHC class II is the result of dimerization of α and β chains, with the assistance of an invariant chain.
|HLA-DQ||HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQA2||HLA-DQB1, HLA-DQB2, HLA-DQB3|
|HLA-DR||HLA-DRA||HLA-DRB1, HLA-DRB2, HLA-DRB3, HLA-DRB4, HLA-DRB5|
- School of Crystallography The Invariant chain