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Keywords:

  • antigen presentation;
  • autophagy;
  • cross-presentation;
  • endoplasmic reticulum;
  • endosome;
  • major histocompatibility complex;
  • phagocytosis;
  • phagosome;
  • retrotranslocation;
  • toll-like receptors

Phagocytosis provides innate immune cells with a mechanism to take up and destroy pathogenic bacteria, apoptotic cells and other large particles. In some cases, however, peptide antigens from these particles are preserved for presentation in association with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I or class II molecules in order to stimulate antigen-specific T cells. Processing and presentation of antigens from phagosomes presents a number of distinct challenges relative to antigens internalized by other means; while bacterial antigens were among the first discovered to be presented to T cells, analyses of the cellular mechanisms by which peptides from phagocytosed antigens assemble with MHC molecules and by which these complexes are then expressed at the plasma membrane have lagged behind those of conventional model soluble antigens. In this review, we cover recent advances in our understanding of these processes, including the unique cross-presentation of phagocytosed antigens by MHC class I molecules, and in their control by signaling modalities in phagocytic cells.

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