Send to

Choose Destination
Cell Microbiol. 2004 Aug;6(8):707-17.

Immune escape and exploitation strategies of cytomegaloviruses: impact on and imitation of the major histocompatibility system.

Author information

Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305-5124, USA.


Cytomegalovirus (CMV) has yielded many insights into immune escape mechanisms. Both human and mouse CMV encode a diverse array of gene products, many of which appear to modulate the immune response in the host. Some deflect the host response to infection and contribute to lifelong viral persistence while others exploit immune cells that respond to infection. Here, the viral functions that modulate and mimic host major histocompatibility complex (MHC) function will be reviewed. Viral gene products related to both classical and non-classical components of the MHC system assure the virus will persist in immunocompetent individuals. Examples of host countermeasures that neutralize viral immunomodulatory functions have emerged in the characterization of viral functions that contribute to this stand-off in CMVs that infect humans, other primates and rodents. CMV-induced disease occurs when the immune system is not yet developed, such as in the developing fetus, or when it is compromised, such as in allograft transplant recipients, suggesting that the balance between virus escape and host control is central to pathogenesis. Although evidence supports the dominant role of immune escape in CMV pathogenesis and persistence, MHC-related immunomodulatory functions have been ascribed only subtle impact on pathogenesis and the immune response during natural infection. Viral gene products that interface with the MHC system may impact natural killer cell function, antigen presentation, and T lymphocyte immune surveillance. Many also interact with other cells, particularly those in the myeloid lineage, with consequences that have not been explored. Overall, the virus-encoded modulatory functions that have been acquired by CMV likely ensure survival and adaptation to the wide range of mammalian host species in which they are found.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center