Home Acta Virologica 2020 Acta Virologica Vol.64, No.2, p.117-130, 2020

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Acta Virologica Vol.64, No.2, p.117-130, 2020

Title: The power of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) hijacked UL/b' functions lost in vitro
Author: V. Kempová, S. Lenhartová, M. Benko, M. Nemčovič, M. Kúdelová, I. Nemčovičová

Abstract: Viruses have evolved sophisticated strategies to subvert immunity to benefit overall viral fitness. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV, β-herpesvirus) represents a paradigm of very effective hijacking of gene functions that imitate host encoded immunomodulatory proteins. This co-evolution with the host immune system allowed for establishment of lifelong persistence. The HCMV infection is largely asymptomatic in healthy persons; however, it can induce serious disease in immunocompromised individuals. For this reason, great attention is paid to the development of therapeutics based on HCMV immunomodulatory ‘tricks’ as well as to the search for active vaccine against HCMV. While comparing the HCMV clinical isolates with extensively passaged laboratory strains, the unique long (UL) b' locus was commonly found to be deleted in HCMV genome while adapted to replication in human fibroblasts in vitro. This missing region, called UL/b' region, encodes up to 22 canonical genes with different functions, as of targeting cellular tropism (e.g. UL133-UL138); viral entry and assembly (e.g. UL128, UL130, UL131A); regulation of immunological synapses (e.g. UL135); inhibition of NK and T cell function (e.g. UL141, UL142, UL148, UL144), ablating activity (e.g. UL146, UL147), but mainly aimed at manipulating the host immune response. Moreover, the presence of UL/b' genomic region dramatically correlates with adverse effects in vaccinated persons, indicating that viral genes in this region play a significant role in controlling virulence. Here, we review how HCMV shapes our immunity by hijacked genes originated from UL/b' locus, discuss their impact in immunomodulation mechanism and how this knowledge may translate to clinical applications.

Keywords: immunomodulation; HCMV genes; UL/b' locus; NK cell function; HCMV vaccine; immunity; immunotherapeutics
Published online: 02-Apr-2020
Year: 2020, Volume: 64, Issue: 2 Page From: 117, Page To: 130
doi:10.4149/av_2020_202


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