Leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptor subfamily B member 1 (LILRB1) has been reported to interact with a wide spectrum of HLA class I (HLA-I) molecules, albeit with different affinities determined by allelic polymorphisms and conformational features. HLA-G dimerization and the presence of intracellular Cys residues in HLA-B7 have been shown to be critical for their recognition by LILRB1. We hypothesized that dimerization of classical HLA class Ia molecules, previously detected in exosomes, might enhance their interaction with LILRB1. A soluble LILRB1-Fc fusion protein and a sensitive cellular reporter system expressing a LILRB1-ζ chimera were employed to assess receptor interaction with different HLA class Ia molecules transfected in the human lymphoblastoid 721.221 cell line. Under these conditions, intracellular Cys residues and HLA-I dimerization appeared associated with increased LILRB1 recognition. On the other hand, a marginal interaction of LILRB1 with primary monocytic cells, irrespective of their high HLA-I expression, was enhanced by type I interferon (IFN). This effect appeared disproportionate to the cytokine-induced increase of surface HLA-I expression and was accompanied by detection of HLA class Ia dimers. Altogether, the results support that a regulated assembly of these noncanonical HLA-I conformers during the immune response may enhance the avidity of their interaction with LILRB1.
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