Efficient assembly of recombinant major histocompatibility complex class I molecules with preformed disulfide bonds



The expression of major histocompatibility class I (MHC-I) crucially depends upon the binding of appropriate peptides. MHC-I from natural sources are therefore always preoccupied with peptidescomplicating their purification and analysis. Here, we present an efficient solution to this problem. Recombinant MHC-I heavy chains were produced in Escherichia coli and subsequently purified under denaturing conditions. In contrast to common practice, the molecules were not reduced during the purification. The oxidized MHC-I heavy chain isoforms were highly active with respect to peptide binding. This suggests that de novo folding of denatured MHC-I molecules proceed efficiently if directed by preformed disulfide bond(s). Importantly, these molecules express serological epitopes and stain specific T cells; and they bind peptides specifically. Several denatured MHC-I heavy chains were analyzed and shown to be of a quality, which allowed quantitative analysis of peptide binding. The analysis of the specificity of the several hundred human MHC haplotypes, should benefit considerably from the availability of pre-oxidized recombinant MHC-I.