The Epstein-Barr virus-encoded BILF1 protein modulates immune recognition of endogenously processed antigen by targeting major histocompatibility complex class I molecules trafficking on both the exocytic and endocytic pathways.

Cancer Research UK Birmingham Cancer Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Journal of Virology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 02/2011; 85(4):1604-14. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.01608-10
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Despite triggering strong immune responses, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has colonized more than 90% of the adult human population. Successful persistence of EBV depends on the establishment of a balance between host immune responses and viral immune evasion. Here we have extended our studies on the EBV-encoded BILF1 protein, which was recently identified as an immunoevasin that functions by enhancing degradation of major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) antigens via lysosomes. We now demonstrate that disruption of the EKT signaling motif of BILF1 by a K122A mutation impairs the ability of BILF1 to enhance endocytosis of surface MHC-I molecules, while subsequent lysosomal degradation was impaired by deletion of the 21-residue C-terminal tail of BILF1. Furthermore, we identified another mechanism of BILF1 immunomodulation: it targets newly synthesized MHC-I/peptide complexes en route to the cell surface. Importantly, although the diversion of MHC-I on the exocytic pathway caused a relatively modest reduction in cell surface MHC-I, presentation of endogenously processed target peptides to immune CD8(+) effector T cells was reduced by around 65%. The immune-modulating functions of BILF1 in the context of the whole virus were confirmed in cells lytically infected with a recombinant EBV in which BILF1 was deleted. This study therefore extends our initial observations on BILF1 to show that this immunoevasin can target MHC-I antigen presentation via both the exocytic and endocytic trafficking pathways. The results also emphasize the merits of including functional T cell recognition assays to gain a more complete picture of immunoevasin effects on the antigen presentation pathway.

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