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Nat Immunol. 2005 Feb;6(2):181-8. Epub 2005 Jan 9.

Downregulation of natural killer cell-activating ligand CD155 by human cytomegalovirus UL141.

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  • 1Section of Infection and Immunity, Tenovus Building, College of Medicine, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XX, UK.


Natural killer (NK) cells are crucial in the control of cytomegalovirus infections in mice and humans. Here we show that the viral UL141 gene product has an immunomodulatory function that is associated with low-passage strains of human cytomegalovirus. UL141 mediated efficient protection of cells against killing by a wide range of human NK cell populations, including interferon-alpha-stimulated bulk cultures, polyclonal NK cell lines and most NK cell clones tested. Evasion of NK cell killing was mediated by UL141 blocking surface expression of CD155, which was previously identified as a ligand for NK cell-activating receptors CD226 (DNAM-1) and CD96 (TACTILE). The breadth of the UL141-mediated effect indicates that CD155 has a key role in regulating NK cell function.

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