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Tissue Antigens. 2004 Mar;63(3):195-203.

Natural killer cell receptors for major histocompatibility complex class I and related molecules in cytomegalovirus infection.

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Molecular Immunopathology Unit, DCEXS Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.


Downmodulation of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules by cytomegalovirus (CMV) impairs the engagement of specific leucocyte-inhibitory receptors, rendering infected cells vulnerable to natural killer (NK) cells. Members of the murine Ly49 and human KIR families, CD85j (ILT2 or leucocyte Ig-like receptor-1), as well as the CD94/NKG2A-inhibitory killer lectin-like receptor (KLR) fulfil this surveillance role. On the other hand, NK-activating receptors specific to ligands expressed on virus-infected cells may overcome the control by inhibitory receptors. In this regard, NKG2D and Ly49H lectin-like molecules trigger NK-cell functions recognizing, respectively class I-related stress-inducible molecules and the m157 murine CMV glycoprotein. Among a variety of immune evasion strategies, CMV promotes the synthesis of class I surrogates and selectively preserves the expression of some class I molecules in infected cells; moreover, CMV interferes with the expression of ligands for NKG2D. We herein review these aspects of the host-pathogen interaction, discussing a number of open issues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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