A CD8+ T cell immune evasion protein specific to Epstein-Barr virus and its close relatives in Old World primates

Andrew D. Hislop, Maaike E. Ressing, Daphne Van Leeuwen, Victoria A. Pudney, Daniëlle Horst, Danijela Koppers-Lalic, Nathan P. Croft, Jacques J. Neefjes, Alan B. Rickinson, Emmanuel J.H.J. Wiertz

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126 Citations (Scopus)


γ1-Herpesviruses such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) have a unique ability to amplify virus loads in vivo through latent growth-transforming infection. Whether they, like α-and β-herpesviruses, have been driven to actively evade immune detection of replicative (lytic) infection remains a moot point. We were prompted to readdress this question by recent work (Pudney, V.A., A.M. Leese, A.B. Rickinson, and A.D. Hislop. 2005. J. Exp. Med. 201:349-360; Ressing, M.E., S.E. Keating, D. van Leeuwen, D. Koppers-Lalic, I.Y. Pappworth, E.J.H.J. Wiertz, and M. Rowe. 2005. J. Immunol. 174:6829-6838) showing that, as EBV-infected cells move through the lytic cycle, their susceptibility to EBV-specific CD8+ T cell recognition falls dramatically, concomitant with a reductions in transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) function and surface human histocompatibility leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I expression. Screening of genes that are unique to EBV and closely related γ1-herpesviruses of Old World primates identified an early EBV lytic cycle gene, BNLF2a, which efficiently blocks antigen-specific CD8+ T cell recognition through HLA-A-, HLA-B-, and HLA-C-restricting alleles when expressed in target cells in vitro. The small (60-amino acid) BNLF2a protein mediated its effects through interacting with the TAP complex and inhibiting both its peptide- and ATP-binding functions. Furthermore, this targeting of the major histocompatibility complex class I pathway appears to be conserved among the BNLF2a homologues of Old World primate γ1- herpesviruses. Thus, even the acquisition of latent cycle genes endowing unique growth-transforming ability has not liberated these agents from evolutionary pressure to evade CD8+ T cell control over virus replicative foci. JEM

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1863-1873
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2007

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