The Antigen Presentation with MHC II Molecules


Related Posts:

The process of phagocytosis. 1: A bacterium is engulfed by phagocytosis into a dendritic cell and is encased in a phagosome. 2: Lysosomes fuse with the phagosome and digest the bacterium. 3: Immunodominant epitopes are associated with MHC II and presented on the cell surface.
A dendritic cell phagocytoses a bacterial cell and brings it into a phagosome. Lysosomes fuse with the phagosome to create a phagolysosome, where antimicrobial chemicals and enzymes degrade the bacterial cell. Proteases process bacterial antigens, and the most antigenic epitopes are selected and presented on the cell’s surface in conjunction with MHC II molecules. T cells recognize the presented antigens and are thus activated.

Source: OpenStax Microbiology

OpenStax Microbiology

MHC II molecules are only found on the surface of APCs. Macrophages and dendritic cells use similar mechanisms for processing and presentation of antigens and their epitopes in association with MHC II.

After a dendritic cell recognizes and attaches to a pathogen cell, the pathogen is internalized by phagocytosis and is initially contained within a phagosome. Lysosomes containing antimicrobial enzymes and chemicals fuse with the phagosome to create a phagolysosome, where degradation of the pathogen for antigen processing begins. Proteases (protein-degrading) are especially important in antigen processing because only protein antigen epitopes are presented to T cells by MHC II.

APCs do not present all possible epitopes to T cells; only a selection of the most antigenic or immunodominant epitopes are presented. The mechanism by which epitopes are selected for processing and presentation by an APC is complicated and not well understood; however, once the most antigenic, immunodominant epitopes have been processed, they associate within the antigen-binding cleft of MHC II molecules and are translocated to the cell surface of the dendritic cell for presentation to T cells.


Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: