Finding virus-infected cells

CD8+ T cells can detect CMV-infected cells, even though CMV interferes with MHC class I antigen presentation.

By | March 7, 2001

T cells seek and destroy cells containing viruses. They identify infected cells by the recognition of specialised proteins such as MHC class I molecules that display virus-derived proteins on the cell surface. But viruses like cytomegalovirus (CMV) disrupt the production of MHC class I molecules, thereby evading the T cell-mediated immune response. In March Nature Immunology, Veronika Groh and colleagues from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, propose a new mechanism by which CD8+ T cells detect CMV-infected cells even when few MHC class I molecules are present.

In addition to MHC class I molecules CD8+ T cells also express the receptor NKG2D that binds to the protein MIC. Working on cultured fibroblast and endothelial cells, Groh et al found a substantial increase in MIC expression in cells infected by CMV. MIC interaction with NKG2D increases T cell cytolytic and cytokine responses (Nat Immun 2001, 2:255-260). This could represent an important mechanism to circumvent viral interference with MHC class I antigen presentation. It will be important to determine if this strategy is involved in the detection of all virally infected cells or is specific for the detection of CMV.


Popular Now

  1. Antidepressant Exerts Epigenetic Changes
  2. Inside a Lab Mouse’s High-Fat Diet
  3. Remote Mind Control
  4. Image of the Day: Mother’s Love
Life Technologies