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Front Immunol. 2018 Dec 6;9:2803. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02803. eCollection 2018.

Induction of Proinflammatory Multiple Sclerosis-Associated Retrovirus Envelope Protein by Human Herpesvirus-6A and CD46 Receptor Engagement.

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International Centre for Infectiology Research, INSERM U1111, CNRS UMR5308, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, University of Lyon, Lyon, France.
GeNeuro Innovation, Lyon, France.
Institute for Advanced Biosciences, INSERM U1209, CNRS UMR5309, Université Grenoble-Alpes, IAPC, La Tronche, France.


The aberrant expression of human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) elements of the HERV-W family has been associated with different diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS). In particular, the expression of the envelope protein (Env) from the multiple sclerosis-associated retrovirus (MSRV), a member of HERV-W family and known for its potent proinflammatory activity, is repeatedly detected in the brain lesions and blood of MS patients. Furthermore, human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) infection has long been suspected to play a role in the pathogenesis of MS and neuroinflammation. We show here that both HHV-6A and stimulation of its receptor, transmembrane glycoprotein CD46, induce the expression of MSRV-Env. The engagement of extracellular domains SCR3 and SCR4 of CD46-Cyt1 isoform was required for MSRV-env transactivation, limiting thus the MSRV-Env induction to the CD46 ligands binding these domains, including C3b component of complement, specific monoclonal antibodies, and both infectious and UV-inactivated HHV-6A, but neither HHV-6B nor measles virus vaccine strain. Induction of MSRV-Env required CD46 Cyt-1 singling and was abolished by the inhibitors of protein kinase C. Finally, both membrane-expressed and secreted MSRV-Env trigger TLR4 signaling, displaying thus a proinflammatory potential, characteristic for this viral protein. These data expand the specter of HHV-6A effects in the modulation of the immune response and support the hypothesis that cross-talks between exogenous and endogenous viruses may contribute to inflammatory diseases and participate in neuroinflammation. Furthermore, they reveal a new function of CD46, known as an inhibitor of complement activation and receptor for several pathogens, in transactivation of HERV env genes, which may play an important role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases.


CD46; HHV-6A; MSRV; TLR4; human endogenous retrovirus; inflammation; multiple sclerosis

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