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Immunity. 2001 Oct;15(4):579-89.

Epstein-Barr virus transactivates the human endogenous retrovirus HERV-K18 that encodes a superantigen.

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1
Department of Pathology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA.

Abstract

Superantigens (SAgs) are proteins produced by pathogenic microbes to elicit potent, antigen-independent T cell responses that are believed to enhance the microbes' pathogenicity. Here we show that the human lymphotropic herpesvirus Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) transcriptionally activates the env gene of an endogenous retrovirus, HERV-K18, that possesses SAg activity. SAg activity was demonstrated by MHC class II dependent preferential activation of TCRVB13 T cells in response to murine B cells transfected with the HERV-K18 env gene. This is a unique demonstration of a pathogen inducing a host-encoded Sag and accounts for the previously described EBV associated Sag activity. The T cell activation elicited by the Sag could play a central role in EBV infection and associated diseases.

PMID:
11672540
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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