Human herpesvirus 6B (HHV-6B) is a ubiquitous pathogen causing lifelong infections in approximately 95% of humans worldwide. To persist within its host, HHV-6B has developed several immune evasion mechanisms, such as latency, during which minimal proteins are expressed, and the ability to disturb innate and adaptive immune responses. The primary cellular targets of HHV-6B are CD4+ T cells. Previous studies by Flamand et al. (L. Flamand, J. Gosselin, I. Stefanescu, D. Ablashi, and J. Menezes, Blood 85:1263-1271, 1995) reported on the capacity of HHV-6A as well as UV-irradiated HHV-6A to inhibit interleukin-2 (IL-2) synthesis in CD4+ lymphocytes, suggesting that viral structural components could be responsible for this effect. In the present study, we identified the HHV-6B U54 tegument protein (U54) as being capable of inhibiting IL-2 expression. U54 binds the calcineurin (CaN) phosphatase enzyme, causing improper dephosphorylation and nuclear translocation of NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cells) proteins, resulting in suboptimal IL-2 gene transcription. The U54 GISIT motif (amino acids 293 to 297), analogous to the NFAT PXIXIT motif, contributed to the inhibition of NFAT activation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science