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

Andrew Hislop, ME Ressing, D van Leeuwen, Victoria Pudney, D Horst, D Koppers-Lalic, Nathan Croft, JJ Neefjes, Alan Rickinson, EJHJ Wiertz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

127 Citations (Scopus)


gamma 1-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 alpha- and beta-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 gamma 1-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 gamma 1-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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1863-73
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2007


Dive into the research topics of 'A CD8+ T cell immune evasion protein specific to Epstein-Barr virus and its close relatives in Old World primates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this