Author(s): Noriega VM, Tortorella D
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Abstract Throughout the course of natural evolution with its host, the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) has developed a variety of strategies to avoid immune recognition and clearance. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigen presentation pathway is a major target of the virus. HCMV encodes at least six gene products that modulate the processing of endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-resident MHC class I molecules. Here, we show that two virus-encoded proteins, US2 and US3, coordinate their functions toward the common goal of attenuating class I protein surface expression. In cells stably expressing both US2 and US3, class I molecules were almost completely downregulated from the cell surface. In addition, pulse-chase analysis revealed that the proteasome-dependent turnover of class I molecules occurs more rapidly in cells expressing both US2 and US3 than either US2 or US3 alone. The ability of US3 to retain class I molecules in the ER produces a target-rich environment for US2 to mediate the destruction of class I heavy chains. In fact, expression of US3 enhanced the association between US2 and class I molecules, thus encouraging their dislocation and degradation. This immune evasion strategy ensures that viral antigens are not presented on the cell surface during the early phase of HCMV infection, a critical time of replication and viral proliferation.
This article was published in J Virol
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