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Virology. 2003 May 25;310(1):100-8.

The E5 protein of human papillomavirus type 16 perturbs MHC class II antigen maturation in human foreskin keratinocytes treated with interferon-gamma.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202-5120, USA.


Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II antigens are expressed on human foreskin keratinocytes (HFKs) following exposure to interferon gamma. The expression of MHC class II proteins on the cell surface may allow keratinocytes to function as antigen-presenting cells and induce a subsequent immune response to virus infection. Invariant chain (Ii) is a chaperone protein which plays an important role in the maturation of MHC class II molecules. The sequential degradation of Ii within acidic endocytic compartments is a key process required for the successful loading of antigenic peptide onto MHC class II molecules. Since human papillomavirus (HPV) 16 E5 can inhibit the acidification of late endosomes in HFKs, the E5 protein may be able to affect proper peptide loading onto the MHC class II molecule. To test this hypothesis, HFKs were infected with either control virus or a recombinant virus expressing HPV16 E5 and the infected cells were subsequently treated with interferon-gamma. ELISAs revealed a decrease of MHC class II expression on the surface of E5-expressing cells compared with control virus-infected cells after interferon treatment. Western blot analysis showed that, in cells treated with interferon gamma, E5 could prevent the breakdown of Ii and block the formation of peptide-loaded, SDS-stable mature MHC class II dimers, correlating with diminished surface MHC class II expression. These data suggest that HPV16 E5 may be able to decrease immune recognition of infected keratinocytes via disruption of MHC class II protein function.

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