We have examined the role of the invariant gamma-chain on the intracellular transport of human class II histocompatibility antigens. mRNA was selected by hybridization to cDNA corresponding to class II alpha-, beta-, and gamma-chains, and the obtained mRNA fractions were injected individually and in various combinations into X. laevis oocytes. Translation products were isolated after various periods of chase, and their carbohydrate moieties were analyzed to monitor the subcellular localization of polypeptide chains. A mixture of alpha-, beta-, and gamma-chains, or gamma-chains alone, were transported and glycosylated to the same extent as in a B lymphoblastoid cell line. However, although alpha- and beta-chains formed a complex in the absence of the gamma-chain, the transport of this complex was slowed down. Furthermore, the glycosylation of alpha- and beta-chains appeared incomplete. Thus, the invariant gamma-chain seems to play a crucial role for the rate of transport and glycosylation of class II alpha- and beta-chains.

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