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Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus K3 and K5 ubiquitin E3 ligases have stage-specific immune evasion roles during lytic replication.

Journal of virology (2014-06-06)
Kevin Brulois, Zsolt Toth, Lai-Yee Wong, Pinghui Feng, Shou-Jiang Gao, Armin Ensser, Jae U Jung
ABSTRACT

The downregulation of immune synapse components such as major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) and ICAM-1 is a common viral immune evasion strategy that protects infected cells from targeted elimination by cytolytic effector functions of the immune system. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) encodes two membrane-bound ubiquitin E3 ligases, called K3 and K5, which share the ability to induce internalization and degradation of MHC-I molecules. Although individual functions of K3 and K5 outside the viral genome are well characterized, their roles during the KSHV life cycle are still unclear. In this study, we individually introduced the amino acid-coding sequences of K3 or K5 into a ΔK3 ΔK5 recombinant virus, at either original or interchanged genomic positions. Recombinants harboring coding sequences within the K5 locus showed higher K3 and K5 protein expression levels and more rapid surface receptor downregulation than cognate recombinants in which coding sequences were introduced into the K3 locus. To identify infected cells undergoing K3-mediated downregulation of MHC-I, we employed a novel reporter virus, called red-green-blue-BAC16 (RGB-BAC16), which was engineered to harbor three fluorescent protein expression cassettes: EF1α-monomeric red fluorescent protein 1 (mRFP1), polyadenylated nuclear RNA promoter (pPAN)-enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), and pK8.1-monomeric blue fluorescent protein (tagBFP), marking latent, immediate early, and late viral gene expression, respectively. Analysis of RGB-derived K3 and K5 deletion mutants showed that while the K5-mediated downregulation of MHC-I was concomitant with pPAN induction, the reduction of MHC-I surface expression by K3 was evident in cells that were enriched for pPAN-driven EGFP(high) and pK8.1-driven blue fluorescent protein-positive (BFP(+)) populations. These data support the notion that immunoreceptor downregulation occurs by a sequential process wherein K5 is critical during the immediately early phase and K3 plays a significant role during later stages. Although the roles of K3 and K5 outside the viral genome are well characterized, the function of these proteins in the context of the KSHV life cycle has remained unclear, particularly in the case of K3. This study examined the relative contributions of K3 and K5 to the downregulation of MHC-I during the lytic replication of KSHV. We show that while K5 acts immediately upon entry into the lytic phase, K3-mediated downregulation of MHC-I was evident during later stages of lytic replication. The identification of distinctly timed K3 and K5 activities significantly advances our understanding of KSHV-mediated immune evasion. Crucial to this study was the development of a novel recombinant KSHV, called RGB-BAC16, which facilitated the delineation of stage-specific phenotypes.

MATERIALS
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