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J Immunol. 2006 Nov 15;177(10):7094-102.

Human cytomegalovirus envelope glycoproteins B and H are necessary for TLR2 activation in permissive cells.

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McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Human CMV (HCMV) is a ubiquitous member of the Herpesviridae family and an opportunistic pathogen that poses significant health risks for immunocompromised patients. HCMV pathogenesis is intimately tied to the immune status of the host, thus characterization of the innate immune response to HCMV infection is critical for understanding disease progression. Previously, we identified TLR2 as a host factor that detects and initiates inflammatory cytokine secretion in response to HCMV independent of viral replication. In this study, we show that two entry-mediating envelope gp, gp B (gB) and gp H (gH), display determinants recognized by TLR2. Neutralizing Abs against TLR2, gB and gH inhibit inflammatory cytokine responses to HCMV infection, suggesting that inflammatory cytokine stimulation by HCMV is mediated by interactions between these envelope gp and TLR2. Furthermore, both gB and gH coimmunoprecipitate with TLR2 and TLR1, indicating that these envelope gp directly interact with TLR2 and that a TLR2/TLR1 heterodimer is a functional sensor for HCMV. Because our previous studies were conducted in model cell lines, we also show that TLR2 is expressed by HCMV permissive human fibroblast cell strains, and that TLR2 is a functional sensor in these cells. This study further elucidates the importance and potency of envelope gp as a class of molecules displaying pathogen-associated molecular patterns that are recognized with immediate kinetics by TLRs in permissive cells.

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