ABSTRACT: Natural killer (NK) cells provide an initial host immune response to infection by many viral pathogens. Consequently, the viruses have evolved mechanisms to attenuate the host response, leading to improved viral fitness. One mechanism employed by members of the β-herpesvirus family, which includes the cytomegaloviruses, is to modulate the expression of cell surface ligands recognized by NK cell activation molecules. A novel set of cytomegalovirus (CMV) genes, exemplified by the mouse m145 family, encode molecules that have structural and functional features similar to those of host major histocompatibility-encoded (MHC) class I molecules, some of which are known to contribute to immune evasion. In this review, we explore the function, structure, and evolution of MHC-I-like molecules of the CMVs and speculate on the dynamic development of novel immunoevasive functions based on the MHC-I protein fold.
Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 01/2011; 2011:724607. · 2.44 Impact Factor