Natural killer (NK) cells mediate innate immune responses against hazardous cells and are particularly important for the control of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). NKG2D is a key NK activating receptor that recognizes a family of stress-induced ligands, including MICA, MICB, and ULBP1-6. Notably, most of these ligands are targeted by HCMV proteins and a miRNA to prevent the killing of infected cells by NK cells. A particular highly prevalent MICA allele, MICA*008, is considered to be an HCMV-resistant "escape variant" that confers advantage to human NK cells in recognizing infected cells. However, here we show that HCMV uses its viral glycoprotein US9 to specifically target MICA*008 and thus escapes NKG2D attack. The finding that HCMV evolved a protein dedicated to countering a single host alleleillustrates the dynamic co-evolution of host and pathogen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)