Herpesviruses placating the unwilling host : manipulation of the MHC class II antigen presentation pathway

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Lifelong persistent infection by herpesviruses depends on the balance between host immune responses and viral immune evasion. CD4 T cells responding to antigens presented on major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) molecules are known to play an important role in controlling herpesvirus infections. Here we review, with emphasis on human herpesvirus infections, the strategies evolved to evade CD4 T cell immunity. These viruses target multiple points on the MHC class II antigen presentation pathway. The mechanisms include: suppression of CIITA to inhibit the synthesis of MHC class II molecules, diversion or degradation of HLA-DR molecules during membrane transport, and direct targeting of the invariant chain chaperone of HLA-DR.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1335-53
Number of pages19
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2012


  • herpes viruses, MHC class II, CD4 T cell, immune evasion