Murine CMV (MCMV) encodes three viral genes that interfere with Ag presentation (VIPRs) to CD8 T cells, m04, m06, and m152. Because the functional impact of these genes during normal infection of C57BL/6 mice is surprisingly modest, we wanted to determine whether the VIPRs are equally effective against the entire spectrum of H-2b-restricted CD8 T cell epitopes. We also wanted to understand how the VIPRs interact at a functional level. To address these questions, we used a panel of MCMV mutants lacking each VIPR in all possible combinations, and CTL specific for 15 H-2b-restricted MCMV epitopes. Only expression of all three MCMV VIPRs completely inhibited killing by CTL specific for all 15 epitopes, but removal of any one VIPR enabled lysis by at least some CTL. The dominant interaction between the VIPRs was cooperation: m06 increased the inhibition of lysis achieved by either m152 or m04. However, for 1 of 15 epitopes m04 functionally antagonized m152. There was little differential impact of any of the VIPRs on Kb vs D b, but a surprising degree of differential impact of the three VIPRs for different epitopes. These epitope-specific differences did not correlate with functional avidity, or with timing of VIPR expression in relation to Ag expression in the virus replication cycle. Although questions remain about the molecular mechanism and in vivo role of these genes, we conclude that the coordinated function of MCMV's three VIPRs results in a powerful inhibition of lysis of infected cells by CD8 T cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy