Projects per year
Regulating appropriate activation of the immune response in the healthy host despite continual immune surveillance dictates that immune responses must be either self-limiting and therefore negatively regulated following their activation or prevented from developing inappropriately. In the case of antigen-specific T cells, their response is attenuated by several mechanisms, including ligation of CTLA-4 and PD-1. Through the study of the viral OX2 (vOX2) immunoregulator encoded by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), we have identified a T cell-attenuating role both for this protein and for CD200, a cellular orthologue of the viral vOX2 protein. In vitro, antigen-presenting cells (APC) expressing either native vOX2 or CD200 suppressed two functions of cognate antigen-specific T cell clones: gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production and mobilization of CD107a, a cytolytic granule component and measure of target cell killing ability. Mechanistically, vOX2 and CD200 expression on APC suppressed the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase in responding T cells. These data provide the first evidence for a role of both KSHV vOX2 and cellular CD200 in the negative regulation of antigen-specific T cell responses. They suggest that KSHV has evolved to harness the host CD200-based mechanism of attenuation of T cell responses to facilitate virus persistence and dissemination within the infected individual. Moreover, our studies define a new paradigm in immune modulation by viruses: the provision of a negative costimulatory signal to T cells by a virus-encoded orthologue of CD200.