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J Virol. 2015 May;89(10):5536-56. doi: 10.1128/JVI.03713-14. Epub 2015 Mar 4.

Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Latency-Associated Nuclear Antigen Inhibits Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II Expression by Disrupting Enhanceosome Assembly through Binding with the Regulatory Factor X Complex.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, USA.
MOE & MOH Key Laboratory of Medical Molecular Virology, School of Basic Medicine, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, USA


Major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) molecules play a central role in adaptive antiviral immunity by presenting viral peptides to CD4(+) T cells. Due to their key role in adaptive immunity, many viruses, including Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), have evolved multiple strategies to inhibit the MHC-II antigen presentation pathway. The expression of MHC-II, which is controlled mainly at the level of transcription, is strictly dependent upon the binding of the class II transactivator (CIITA) to the highly conserved promoters of all MHC-II genes. The recruitment of CIITA to MHC-II promoters requires its direct interactions with a preassembled MHC-II enhanceosome consisting of cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and nuclear factor Y (NF-Y) complex and regulatory factor X (RFX) complex proteins. Here, we show that KSHV-encoded latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) disrupts the association of CIITA with the MHC-II enhanceosome by binding to the components of the RFX complex. Our data show that LANA is capable of binding to all three components of the RFX complex, RFX-associated protein (RFXAP), RFX5, and RFX-associated ankyrin-containing protein (RFXANK), in vivo but binds more strongly with the RFXAP component in in vitro binding assays. Levels of MHC-II proteins were significantly reduced in KSHV-infected as well as LANA-expressing B cells. Additionally, the expression of LANA in a luciferase promoter reporter assay showed reduced HLA-DRA promoter activity in a dose-dependent manner. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that LANA binds to the MHC-II promoter along with RFX proteins and that the overexpression of LANA disrupts the association of CIITA with the MHC-II promoter. These assays led to the conclusion that the interaction of LANA with RFX proteins interferes with the recruitment of CIITA to MHC-II promoters, resulting in an inhibition of MHC-II gene expression. Thus, the data presented here identify a novel mechanism used by KSHV to downregulate the expressions of MHC-II genes.


Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus is the causative agent of multiple human malignancies. It establishes a lifelong latent infection and persists in infected cells without being detected by the host's immune surveillance system. Only a limited number of viral proteins are expressed during latency, and these proteins play a significant role in suppressing both the innate and adaptive immunities of the host. Latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) is one of the major proteins expressed during latent infection. Here, we show that LANA blocks MHC-II gene expression to subvert the host immune system by disrupting the MHC-II enhanceosome through binding with RFX transcription factors. Therefore, this study identifies a novel mechanism utilized by KSHV LANA to deregulate MHC-II gene expression, which is critical for CD4(+) T cell responses in order to escape host immune surveillance.

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