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J Virol. 2003 Jan;77(1):301-8.

Effective inhibition of K(b)- and D(b)-restricted antigen presentation in primary macrophages by murine cytomegalovirus.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland 97202, USA.


Macrophages play an important role in murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) infection in vivo, both in disseminating infection and in harboring latent virus. MCMV encodes three immune evasion genes (m4, m6, and m152) that interfere with the ability of cytotoxic T cells (CTL) to detect virus-infected fibroblasts, but the efficacy of immune evasion in macrophages has been controversial. Here we show that MCMV immune evasion genes function in H-2(b) primary bone marrow macrophages (BMMphi) in the same way that they do in fibroblasts. Metabolic labeling experiments showed that class I is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum by MCMV infection and associates with m4/gp34 to a similar extent in fibroblasts and BMMphi. We tested a series of K(b)- and D(b)-restricted CTL clones specific for MCMV early genes against a panel of MCMV wild-type virus and mutants lacking m152, m4, or m6. MCMV immune evasion genes effectively inhibited antigen presentation. m152 appeared sufficient to abolish D(b)-restricted presentation in infected macrophages, as has been previously observed in infected fibroblasts. However, for inhibition of recognition of infected macrophages by K(b)-restricted CTL, m4, m6, and m152 were all required. The contribution of m4 to inhibition of recognition appeared much more important in macrophages than in fibroblasts. Thus, MCMV immune evasion genes function effectively in primary macrophages to prevent CTL recognition of early antigens and show the same pattern of major histocompatibility complex class I allele discrimination as is seen in fibroblasts. Furthermore, for inhibition of K(b)-restricted presentation, a strong synergistic effect was noted among m152, m4, and m6.

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