Send to

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

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

Author information

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


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center