- To study the role of proteasomes in Ag presentation, we analyzed the effects of proteasome inhibitors Cbz-Leu-Leu-Leucinal and lactacystin on the ability of mouse fibroblast cells to present recombinant vaccinia virus gene products to MHC class I-restricted T cells. The effects of the inhibitors depended on the determinant analyzed. For influenza virus nucleoprotein (NP), presentation of the immunodominant K k -restricted determinant (NP 50–57 ) was marginally inhibited, whereas presentation of the immunodominant K d -restricted determinant (NP 147–155 ) was enhanced, particularly by lactacystin. Biochemical purification of peptides confirmed that lactacystin enhanced the generation of K d -NP 147–155 complexes fourfold. Lactacystin also enhanced the recovery of one K d -restricted vaccinia virus determinant from HPLC fractions, while inhibiting recovery of another. The inhibitors were used at sufficient concentrations to block presentation of biosynthesized full-length OVA and to completely stabilize a rapidly degraded chimeric ubiquitin-NP fusion protein. Strikingly, presentation of antigenic peptides from this protein was unaffected by proteasome inhibitors. We also observed that proteasome inhibitors induced expression of cytosolic and endoplasmic reticulum stress-responsive proteins. These data demonstrate first that the processes of protein degradation and generation of antigenic peptides from cytosolic proteins can be dissociated, and second that effects of proteasome inhibitors on Ag presentation may reflect secondary effects on cellular metabolism.