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Abstract

Molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) is a common cause of benign skin lesions in young children and currently the only endemic human poxvirus. Following the infection of primary keratinocytes in the epidermis, MCV induces the proliferation of infected cells and this results in the production of wart-like growths. Full productive infection is observed only after the infected cells differentiate. During this prolonged replication cycle the virus must avoid elimination by the host immune system. We therefore sought to investigate the function of the two major histocompatibility complex class-I-related genes encoded by the MCV genes mc033 and mc080. Following insertion into a replication-deficient adenovirus vector, codon-optimized versions of mc033 and mc080 were expressed as endoglycosidase-sensitive glycoproteins that localized primarily in the endoplasmic reticulum. MC080, but not MC033, downregulated cell-surface expression of endogenous classical human leucocyte antigen (HLA) class I and non-classical HLA-E by a transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP)-independent mechanism. MC080 exhibited a capacity to inhibit or activate NK cells in autologous assays in a donor-specific manner. MC080 consistently inhibited antigen-specific T cells being activated by peptide-pulsed targets. We therefore propose that MC080 acts to promote evasion of HLA-I-restricted cytotoxic T cells.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Richard J. Stanton , Wellcome Trust , (Award 204870/Z/16/Z)
  • James Traherne , H2020 European Research Council , (Award 695551)
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2020-06-08
2020-09-22
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