[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The human gammaherpesviruses take advantage of normal B cell differentiation pathways to establish life-long infection in memory B cells. Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) infection of laboratory strains of mice also leads to life-long infection in memory B cells. To gain access to the memory B cell population, MHV68 infected B cells pass through the germinal center reaction during the onset of latency and require signals from T follicular helper (TFH) cells for proliferation. Interleukin 21 (IL-21), one of the secreted factors produced by TFH cells, plays an important role in both the maintenance of the germinal center response as well as in the generation of long-lived plasma cells. Using IL-21R deficient mice, we show that IL-21 signaling is required for efficient establishment of MHV68 infection. In the absence of IL-21 signaling, fewer infected splenocytes are able to gain access to either the germinal center B cell population or the plasma cell population - the latter being a major site of MHV68 reactivation. Furthermore, the germinal center B cell population in IL-21R-/- mice is skewed towards the non-proliferating centrocyte phenotype, resulting in reduced expansion of infected B cells. Additionally, the reduced frequency of infected plasma cells results in a significant reduction in the frequency of splenocytes capable of reactivating virus. This defect in establishment of MHV68 infection is intrinsic to B cells, as MHV68 preferentially establishes infection in IL-21R sufficient B cells in mixed bone marrow chimeric mice. Taken together, these data indicate that IL-21 signaling plays multiple roles during establishment of MHV68 infection, and identify IL-21 as a critical TFH cell-derived factor for efficient establishment of gammaherpesvirus B cell latency.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: X linked lymphoproliferative disease (XLP) is an inherited immunodeficiency resulting from mutations in the gene encoding the slam associated protein (SAP). One of the defining characteristics of XLP is extreme susceptibility to infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a gammaherpesvirus belonging to the genus Lymphocryptovirus, often resulting in fatal infectious mononucleosis (FIM). However, infection of SAP deficient mice with the related Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68), a gammaherpesvirus in the genus Rhadinovirus, does not recapitulate XLP. Here we show that MHV68 inefficiently establishes latency in B cells in SAP deficient mice due to insufficient CD4 T cell help during the germinal center response. Although MHV68 infected B cells can be found in SAP-deficient mice, significantly fewer of these cells had a germinal center phenotype compared to SAP-sufficient mice. Furthermore, we show that infected germinal center B cells in SAP-deficient mice fail to proliferate. This failure to proliferate resulted in significantly lower viral loads, and likely accounts for the inability of MHV68 to induce a FIM-like syndrome. Finally, inhibiting differentiation of T follicular helper (TFH) cells in SAP-sufficient C57Bl/6 mice resulted in decreased B cell latency, and the magnitude of the TFH response directly correlated with the level of infection in B cells. This requirement for CD4 T cell help during the germinal center reaction by MHV68 is in contrast with EBV, which is thought to be capable of bypassing this requirement by expressing viral proteins that mimic signals provided by TFH cells. In conclusion, the outcome of MHV68 infection in mice in the setting of loss of SAP function is distinct from that observed in SAP-deficient patients infected with EBV, and may identify a fundamental difference between the strategies employed by the rhadinoviruses and lymphocryptoviruses to expand B cell latency during the early phase of infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Herpesviruses are characterized by their ability to establish lifelong latent infection. The gammaherpesvirus subfamily is distinguished by lymphotropism, establishing and maintaining latent infection predominantly in B lymphocytes. Consequently, gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis is closely linked to normal B cell physiology. Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) pathogenesis in laboratory mice has been extensively studied as a model system to gain insights into the nature of gammaherpesvirus infection in B cells and their associated lymphoid compartments. In addition to B cells, MHV68 infection of macrophages contributes significantly to the frequency of viral genome-positive cells in the peritoneal cavity throughout latency. The omentum, a sheet of richly-vascularized adipose tissue, resides in the peritoneal cavity and contains clusters of immune cell aggregates termed milky spots. Although the value of the omentum in surgical wound-healing has long been appreciated, the unique properties of this tissue and its contribution to both innate and adaptive immunity have only recently been recognized. To determine whether the omentum plays a role in gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis we examined this site during early MHV68 infection and long-term latency. Following intraperitoneal infection, immune aggregates within the omentum expanded in size and number and contained virus-infected cells. Notably, a germinal-center B cell population appeared in the omentum of infected animals with earlier kinetics and greater magnitude than that observed in the spleen. Furthermore, the omentum harbored a stable frequency of viral genome-positive cells through early and into long-term latency, while removal of the omentum prior to infection resulted in a slight decrease in the establishment of splenic latency following intraperitoneal infection. These data provide the first evidence that the omentum is a site of chronic MHV68 infection that may contribute to the maintenance of chronic infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infection of mice with murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) provides a tractable small animal model to study various aspects of persistent gammaherpesvirus infection. We have previously utilized a transgenic MHV68 that expresses enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (EYFP) to identify infected cells. While this recombinant MHV68 has been useful for identifying infected cell populations by flow cytometry, it has been suboptimal for identification of infected cells in tissue sections due to the high solubility of EYFP. Efficient detection of EYFP expressed from the MHV68 genome in tissue sections requires fixation of whole organs prior to sectioning, which frequently leads to over-fixation of some cellular antigens precluding their detection. To circumvent this issue, we describe the generation and characterization of a transgenic MHV68 harboring a fusion gene composed of the EYFP coding sequence fused to the histone H2B open reading frame. Because the H2bYFP fusion protein is tightly bound in nucleosomes in the nucleus it does not freely diffuse out of unfixed tissue sections, and thus eliminates the need for tissue fixation. We have used the MHV68-H2bYFP recombinant virus to assess the location and distribution of virus infected B cells in germinal centers during the peak of MHV68 latency in vivo. These analyses show that the physical location of distinct populations of infected germinal center B cells correlates well with their surface phenotype. Furthermore, analysis of the distribution of virus infection within germinal center B cell populations revealed that ca. 70% of MHV68 infected GC B cells are rapidly dividing centroblasts, while ca. 20% have a clear centrocyte phenotype. Finally, we have shown that marking of infected cells with MHV68-H2bYFP is extended long after the onset of latency - which should facilitate studies to track MHV68 latently infected cells at late times post-infection.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gammaherpesviruses chronically infect their host and are tightly associated with the development of lymphoproliferative diseases and lymphomas, as well as several other types of cancer. Mechanisms involved in maintaining chronic gammaherpesvirus infections are poorly understood and, in particular, little is known about the mechanisms involved in controlling gammaherpesvirus reactivation from latently infected B cells in vivo. Recent evidence has linked plasma cell differentiation with reactivation of the human gammaherpesviruses EBV and KSHV through induction of the immediate-early viral transcriptional activators by the plasma cell-specific transcription factor XBP-1s. We now extend those findings to document a role for a gammaherpesvirus gene product in regulating plasma cell differentiation and thus virus reactivation. We have previously shown that the murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) gene product M2 is dispensable for virus replication in permissive cells, but plays a critical role in virus reactivation from latently infected B cells. Here we show that in mice infected with wild type MHV68, virus infected plasma cells (ca. 8% of virus infected splenocytes at the peak of viral latency) account for the majority of reactivation observed upon explant of splenocytes. In contrast, there is an absence of virus infected plasma cells at the peak of latency in mice infected with a M2 null MHV68. Furthermore, we show that the M2 protein can drive plasma cell differentiation in a B lymphoma cell line in the absence of any other MHV68 gene products. Thus, the role of M2 in MHV68 reactivation can be attributed to its ability to manipulate plasma cell differentiation, providing a novel viral strategy to regulate gammaherpesvirus reactivation from latently infected B cells. We postulate that M2 represents a new class of herpesvirus gene products (reactivation conditioners) that do not directly participate in virus replication, but rather facilitate virus reactivation by manipulating the cellular milieu to provide a reactivation competent environment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Infection of inbred mice with murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) has proven to be a powerful tool to study gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis. However, one of the limitations of this system has been the inability to directly detect infected cells harvested from infected animals. To address this issue, we generated a transgenic virus that expresses the enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (YFP), driven by the human cytomegalovirus immediate-early promoter and enhancer, from a neutral locus within the viral genome. This virus, MHV68-YFP, replicated and established latency as efficiently as did the wild-type virus. During the early phase of viral latency, MHV68-YFP efficiently marked latently infected cells in the spleen after intranasal inoculation. Staining splenocytes for expression of various surface markers demonstrated the presence of MHV68 in distinct populations of splenic B cells harboring MHV68. Notably, these analyses also revealed that markers used to discriminate between newly formed, follicular and marginal zone B cells may not be reliable for phenotyping B cells harboring MHV68 since virus infection appears to modulate cell surface expression levels of CD21 and CD23. However, as expected, we observed that the overwhelming majority of latently infected B cells at the peak of latency exhibited a germinal center phenotype. These analyses also demonstrated that a significant percentage of MHV68-infected splenocytes at the peak of viral latency are plasma cells (ca. 15% at day 14 and ca. 8% at day 18). Notably, the frequency of virus-infected plasma cells correlated well with the frequency of splenocytes that spontaneously reactivate virus upon explant. Finally, we observed that the efficiency of marking latently infected B cells with the MHV68-YFP recombinant virus declined at later times postinfection, likely due to shut down of transgene expression, and indicating that the utility of this marking strategy is currently limited to the early stages of virus infection.
Full-text · Article · May 2009 · Journal of Virology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: NF-kappaB signaling is critical to the survival and transformation of cells infected by the human gammaherpesviruses Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. Here we have examined how elimination of the NF-kappaB transcription factor p50 from mice affects the life cycle of murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68). Notably, mice lacking p50 in every cell type were unable to establish a sufficiently robust immune response to control MHV68 infection, leading to high levels of latently infected B cells detected in the spleen and persistent virus replication in the lungs. The latter correlated with very low levels of virus-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) in the infected p50(-/-) mice at day 48 postinfection. Because the confounding impact of the loss of p50 on the host response to MHV68 infection prevented a direct analysis of the role of this NF-kappaB family member on MHV68 latency in B cells, we generated and infected mixed p50(+/+)/p50(-/-) bone marrow chimeric mice. We show that the chimeric mice were able to control acute virus replication and exhibited normal levels of virus-specific IgG at 3 months postinfection, indicating the induction of a normal host immune response to MHV68 infection. However, in p50(+/+)/p50(-/-) chimeric mice the p50(-/-) B cells exhibited a significant defect compared to p50(+/+) B cells in supporting MHV68 latency. In addition to identifying a role for p50 in the establishment of latency, we determined that the absence of p50 in a subset of the hematopoietic compartment led to persistent virus replication in the lungs of the chimeric mice, providing evidence that p50 is required for controlling virus reactivation. Taken together, these data demonstrate that p50 is required for immune control by the host and has distinct tissue-dependent roles in the regulation of murine gammaherpesvirus latency during chronic infection.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2009 · Journal of Virology