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The Murine Gammaherpesvirus Immediate-Early Rta Synergizes with IRF4, Targeting Expression of the Viral M1 Superantigen to Plasma Cells  [PDF]
Brigid M. O'Flaherty,Tanushree Soni,Brian S. Wakeman,Samuel H. Speck
PLOS Pathogens , 2014, DOI: doi/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004302
Abstract: MHV68 is a murine gammaherpesvirus that infects laboratory mice and thus provides a tractable small animal model for characterizing critical aspects of gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis. Having evolved with their natural host, herpesviruses encode numerous gene products that are involved in modulating host immune responses to facilitate the establishment and maintenance of lifelong chronic infection. One such protein, MHV68 M1, is a secreted protein that has no known homologs, but has been shown to play a critical role in controlling virus reactivation from latently infected macrophages. We have previous demonstrated that M1 drives the activation and expansion of Vβ4+ CD8+ T cells, which are thought to be involved in controlling MHV68 reactivation through the secretion of interferon gamma. The mechanism of action and regulation of M1 expression are poorly understood. To gain insights into the function of M1, we set out to evaluate the site of expression and transcriptional regulation of the M1 gene. Here, using a recombinant virus expressing a fluorescent protein driven by the M1 gene promoter, we identify plasma cells as the major cell type expressing M1 at the peak of infection in the spleen. In addition, we show that M1 gene transcription is regulated by both the essential viral immediate-early transcriptional activator Rta and cellular interferon regulatory factor 4 (IRF4), which together potently synergize to drive M1 gene expression. Finally, we show that IRF4, a cellular transcription factor essential for plasma cell differentiation, can directly interact with Rta. The latter observation raises the possibility that the interaction of Rta and IRF4 may be involved in regulating a number of viral and cellular genes during MHV68 reactivation linked to plasma cell differentiation.
The Gammaherpesvirus m2 Protein Manipulates the Fyn/Vav Pathway through a Multidocking Mechanism of Assembly  [PDF]
Marta Pires de Miranda, Marta Alenquer, Sofia Marques, Lénia Rodrigues, Filipa Lopes, Xosé R. Bustelo, J. Pedro Simas
PLOS ONE , 2008, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001654
Abstract: To establish latent infections in B-cells, gammaherpesviruses express proteins in the infected B-cells of the host that spuriously activate signalling pathways located downstream of the B-cell receptor. One such protein is M2, a murine gammaherpesvirus 68-encoded molecule that activates the Vav1/Rac1 pathway via the formation of trimolecular complexes with Scr family members. Previous reports have shown that the formation of this heteromolecular complex involves interactions between a proline rich region of M2 and the Vav1 and Fyn SH3 domains. Here, we show that the optimal association of these proteins requires a second structural motif encompassing two tyrosine residues (Tyr120 and 129). These residues are inducibly phosphorylated by Fyn in non-hematopoietic cells and constitutively phosphorylated in B-cells. We also demonstrate that the phosphorylation of Tyr120 creates specific docking sites for the SH2 domains of both Vav1 and Fyn, a condition sine qua non for the optimal association of these two signalling proteins in vivo. Interestingly, signaling experiments indicate that the expression of M2 in B-cells promotes the tyrosine phosphorylation of Vav1 and additional signaling proteins, a biological process that requires the integrity of both the M2 phosphotyrosine and proline rich region motifs. By infecting mice with viruses mutated in the m2 locus, we show that the integrity of each of these two M2 docking motifs is essential for the early steps of murine gammaherpesvirus-68 latency. Taken together, these results indicate that the M2 phosphotyrosine motif and the previously described M2 proline rich region work in a concerted manner to manipulate the signaling machinery of the host B-cell.
Gammaherpesvirus-Driven Plasma Cell Differentiation Regulates Virus Reactivation from Latently Infected B Lymphocytes  [PDF]
Xiaozhen Liang,Christopher M. Collins,Justin B. Mendel,Neal N. Iwakoshi,Samuel H. Speck
PLOS Pathogens , 2009, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000677
Abstract: Gammaherpesviruses chronically infect their host and are tightly associated with the development of lymphoproliferative diseases and lymphomas, as well as several other types of cancer. Mechanisms involved in maintaining chronic gammaherpesvirus infections are poorly understood and, in particular, little is known about the mechanisms involved in controlling gammaherpesvirus reactivation from latently infected B cells in vivo. Recent evidence has linked plasma cell differentiation with reactivation of the human gammaherpesviruses EBV and KSHV through induction of the immediate-early viral transcriptional activators by the plasma cell-specific transcription factor XBP-1s. We now extend those findings to document a role for a gammaherpesvirus gene product in regulating plasma cell differentiation and thus virus reactivation. We have previously shown that the murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) gene product M2 is dispensable for virus replication in permissive cells, but plays a critical role in virus reactivation from latently infected B cells. Here we show that in mice infected with wild type MHV68, virus infected plasma cells (ca. 8% of virus infected splenocytes at the peak of viral latency) account for the majority of reactivation observed upon explant of splenocytes. In contrast, there is an absence of virus infected plasma cells at the peak of latency in mice infected with a M2 null MHV68. Furthermore, we show that the M2 protein can drive plasma cell differentiation in a B lymphoma cell line in the absence of any other MHV68 gene products. Thus, the role of M2 in MHV68 reactivation can be attributed to its ability to manipulate plasma cell differentiation, providing a novel viral strategy to regulate gammaherpesvirus reactivation from latently infected B cells. We postulate that M2 represents a new class of herpesvirus gene products (reactivation conditioners) that do not directly participate in virus replication, but rather facilitate virus reactivation by manipulating the cellular milieu to provide a reactivation competent environment.
A Gammaherpesvirus Cooperates with Interferon-alpha/beta-Induced IRF2 to Halt Viral Replication, Control Reactivation, and Minimize Host Lethality  [PDF]
Pratyusha Mandal,Bridgette E. Krueger,Darby Oldenburg,Katherine A. Andry,R. Suzanne Beard,Douglas W. White,Erik S. Barton
PLOS Pathogens , 2011, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002371
Abstract: The gammaherpesviruses, including Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), establish latency in memory B lymphocytes and promote lymphoproliferative disease in immunocompromised individuals. The precise immune mechanisms that prevent gammaherpesvirus reactivation and tumorigenesis are poorly defined. Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) is closely related to EBV and KSHV, and type I (alpha/beta) interferons (IFNαβ) regulate MHV68 reactivation from both B cells and macrophages by unknown mechanisms. Here we demonstrate that IFNβ is highly upregulated during latent infection, in the absence of detectable MHV68 replication. We identify an interferon-stimulated response element (ISRE) in the MHV68 M2 gene promoter that is bound by the IFNαβ-induced transcriptional repressor IRF2 during latency in vivo. The M2 protein regulates B cell signaling to promote establishment of latency and reactivation. Virus lacking the M2 ISRE (ISREΔ) overexpresses M2 mRNA and displays uncontrolled acute replication in vivo, higher latent viral load, and aberrantly high reactivation from latency. These phenotypes of the ISREΔ mutant are B-cell-specific, require IRF2, and correlate with a significant increase in virulence in a model of acute viral pneumonia. We therefore identify a mechanism by which a gammaherpesvirus subverts host IFNαβ signaling in a surprisingly cooperative manner, to directly repress viral replication and reactivation and enforce latency, thereby minimizing acute host disease. Since we find ISREs 5′ to the major lymphocyte latency genes of multiple rodent, primate, and human gammaherpesviruses, we propose that cooperative subversion of IFNαβ-induced IRFs to promote latent infection is an ancient strategy that ensures a stable, minimally-pathogenic virus-host relationship.
The MHV68 M2 Protein Drives IL-10 Dependent B Cell Proliferation and Differentiation  [PDF]
Andrea M. Siegel,Jeremy H. Herskowitz,Samuel H. Speck
PLOS Pathogens , 2008, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000039
Abstract: Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) establishes long-term latency in memory B cells similar to the human gammaherpesvirus Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). EBV encodes an interleukin-10 (IL-10) homolog and modulates cellular IL-10 expression; however, the role of IL-10 in the establishment and/or maintenance of chronic EBV infection remains unclear. Notably, MHV68 does not encode an IL-10 homolog, but virus infection has been shown to result in elevated serum IL-10 levels in wild-type mice, and IL-10 deficiency results in decreased establishment of virus latency. Here we show that a unique MHV68 latency-associated gene product, the M2 protein, is required for the elevated serum IL-10 levels observed at 2 weeks post-infection. Furthermore, M2 protein expression in primary murine B cells drives high level IL-10 expression along with increased secretion of IL-2, IL-6, and MIP-1α. M2 expression was also shown to significantly augment LPS driven survival and proliferation of primary murine B cells. The latter was dependent on IL-10 expression as demonstrated by the failure of IL10?/? B cells to proliferate in response to M2 protein expression and rescue of M2-associated proliferation by addition of recombinant murine IL-10. M2 protein expression in primary B cells also led to upregulated surface expression of the high affinity IL-2 receptor (CD25) and the activation marker GL7, along with down-regulated surface expression of B220, MHC II, and sIgD. The cells retained CD19 and sIgG expression, suggesting differentiation to a pre-plasma memory B cell phenotype. These observations are consistent with previous analyses of M2-null MHV68 mutants that have suggested a role for the M2 protein in expansion and differentiation of MHV68 latently infected B cells—perhaps facilitating the establishment of virus latency in memory B cells. Thus, while the M2 protein is unique to MHV68, analysis of M2 function has revealed an important role for IL-10 in MHV68 pathogenesis—identifying a strategy that appears to be conserved between at least EBV and MHV68.
Gammaherpesvirus Co-infection with Malaria Suppresses Anti-parasitic Humoral Immunity  [PDF]
Caline G. Matar?,Neil R. Anthony?,Brigid M. O’Flaherty?,Nathan T. Jacobs?,Lalita Priyamvada?,Christian R. Engwerda?,Samuel H. Speck?,Tracey J. Lamb
PLOS Pathogens , 2015, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004858
Abstract: Immunity to non-cerebral severe malaria is estimated to occur within 1-2 infections in areas of endemic transmission for Plasmodium falciparum. Yet, nearly 20% of infected children die annually as a result of severe malaria. Multiple risk factors are postulated to exacerbate malarial disease, one being co-infections with other pathogens. Children living in Sub-Saharan Africa are seropositive for Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) by the age of 6 months. This timing overlaps with the waning of protective maternal antibodies and susceptibility to primary Plasmodium infection. However, the impact of acute EBV infection on the generation of anti-malarial immunity is unknown. Using well established mouse models of infection, we show here that acute, but not latent murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) infection suppresses the anti-malarial humoral response to a secondary malaria infection. Importantly, this resulted in the transformation of a non-lethal P. yoelii XNL infection into a lethal one; an outcome that is correlated with a defect in the maintenance of germinal center B cells and T follicular helper (Tfh) cells in the spleen. Furthermore, we have identified the MHV68 M2 protein as an important virus encoded protein that can: (i) suppress anti-MHV68 humoral responses during acute MHV68 infection; and (ii) plays a critical role in the observed suppression of anti-malarial humoral responses in the setting of co-infection. Notably, co-infection with an M2-null mutant MHV68 eliminates lethality of P. yoelii XNL. Collectively, our data demonstrates that an acute gammaherpesvirus infection can negatively impact the development of an anti-malarial immune response. This suggests that acute infection with EBV should be investigated as a risk factor for non-cerebral severe malaria in young children living in areas endemic for Plasmodium transmission.
Involvement of TLR2 in Recognition of Acute Gammaherpesvirus-68 Infection  [PDF]
Fran?ois Michaud,Fran?ois Coulombe,éric Gaudreault,Jasna Kriz,Jean Gosselin
PLOS ONE , 2012, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013742
Abstract: Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a crucial role in the activation of innate immunity in response to many viruses. We previously reported the implication of TLR2 in the recognition of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) by human monocytes. Because murine gammaherpesvirus-68 (MHV-68) is a useful model to study human gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis in vivo, we evaluated the importance of mouse TLR2 in the recognition of MHV-68.
Characterization of Omental Immune Aggregates during Establishment of a Latent Gammaherpesvirus Infection  [PDF]
Kathleen S. Gray, Christopher M. Collins, Samuel H. Speck
PLOS ONE , 2012, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043196
Abstract: Herpesviruses are characterized by their ability to establish lifelong latent infection. The gammaherpesvirus subfamily is distinguished by lymphotropism, establishing and maintaining latent infection predominantly in B lymphocytes. Consequently, gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis is closely linked to normal B cell physiology. Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) pathogenesis in laboratory mice has been extensively studied as a model system to gain insights into the nature of gammaherpesvirus infection in B cells and their associated lymphoid compartments. In addition to B cells, MHV68 infection of macrophages contributes significantly to the frequency of viral genome-positive cells in the peritoneal cavity throughout latency. The omentum, a sheet of richly-vascularized adipose tissue, resides in the peritoneal cavity and contains clusters of immune cell aggregates termed milky spots. Although the value of the omentum in surgical wound-healing has long been appreciated, the unique properties of this tissue and its contribution to both innate and adaptive immunity have only recently been recognized. To determine whether the omentum plays a role in gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis we examined this site during early MHV68 infection and long-term latency. Following intraperitoneal infection, immune aggregates within the omentum expanded in size and number and contained virus-infected cells. Notably, a germinal-center B cell population appeared in the omentum of infected animals with earlier kinetics and greater magnitude than that observed in the spleen. Furthermore, the omentum harbored a stable frequency of viral genome-positive cells through early and into long-term latency, while removal of the omentum prior to infection resulted in a slight decrease in the establishment of splenic latency following intraperitoneal infection. These data provide the first evidence that the omentum is a site of chronic MHV68 infection that may contribute to the maintenance of chronic infection.
Endothelial Cells Support Persistent Gammaherpesvirus 68 Infection  [PDF]
Andrea Luísa Suárez,Linda Faye van Dyk
PLOS Pathogens , 2008, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000152
Abstract: A variety of human diseases are associated with gammaherpesviruses, including neoplasms of lymphocytes (e.g. Burkitt's lymphoma) and endothelial cells (e.g. Kaposi's sarcoma). Gammaherpesvirus infections usually result in either a productive lytic infection, characterized by expression of all viral genes and rapid cell lysis, or latent infection, characterized by limited viral gene expression and no cell lysis. Here, we report characterization of endothelial cell infection with murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (γHV68), a virus phylogenetically related and biologically similar to the human gammaherpesviruses. Endothelial cells supported γHV68 replication in vitro, but were unique in that a significant proportion of the cells escaped lysis, proliferated, and remained viable in culture for an extended time. Upon infection, endothelial cells became non-adherent and altered in size, complexity, and cell-surface protein expression. These cells were uniformly infected and expressed the lytic transcription program based on detection of abundant viral gene transcripts, GFP fluorescence from the viral genome, and viral surface protein expression. Additionally, endothelial cells continued to produce new infectious virions as late as 30 days post-infection. The outcome of this long-term infection was promoted by the γHV68 v-cyclin, because in the absence of the v-cyclin, viability was significantly reduced following infection. Importantly, infected primary endothelial cells also demonstrated increased viability relative to infected primary fibroblasts, and this increased viability was dependent on the v-cyclin. Finally, we provide evidence for infection of endothelial cells in vivo in immune-deficient mice. The extended viability and virus production of infected endothelial cells indicated that endothelial cells provided a source of prolonged virus production and identify a cell-type specific adaptation of gammaherpesvirus replication. While infected endothelial cells would likely be cleared in a healthy individual, persistently infected endothelial cells could provide a source of continued virus replication in immune-compromised individuals, a context in which gammaherpesvirus-associated pathology frequently occurs.
Implication of IRF4 Aberrant Gene Expression in the Acute Leukemias of Childhood  [PDF]
Maria Adamaki, George I. Lambrou, Anastasia Athanasiadou, Marianna Tzanoudaki, Spiros Vlahopoulos, Maria Moschovi
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072326
Abstract: The most frequent targets of genetic alterations in human leukemias are transcription factor genes with essential functions in normal blood cell development. The Interferon Regulatory Factor 4 (IRF4) gene encodes a transcription factor important for key developmental stages of hematopoiesis, with known oncogenic implications in multiple myeloma, adult leukemias and lymphomas. Very few studies have reported an association of IRF4 with childhood malignancy, whereas high transcript levels have been observed in the more mature immunophenotype of ALL. Our aim was to investigate the expression levels of IRF4 in the diagnostic samples of pediatric leukemias and compare them to those of healthy controls, in order to determine aberrant gene expression and whether it extends to leukemic subtypes other than the relatively mature ALL subpopulation. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR methodology was used to investigate IRF4 expression in 58 children with acute leukemias, 4 leukemic cell lines and 20 healthy children. We show that aberrant IRF4 gene expression is implicated in a variety of leukemic subtypes; higher transcript levels appear in the more immature B-common ALL subtype and in T-cell than in B-cell leukemias, with the highest expression levels appearing in the AML group. Interestingly, we show that childhood leukemia, irrespective of subtype or cell maturation stage, is characterised by a minimum of approximately twice the amount of IRF4 gene expression encountered in healthy children. A statistically significant correlation also appeared to exist between high IRF4 expression and relapse. Our results show that ectopic expression of IRF4 follows the reverse expression pattern of what is encountered in normal B-cell development and that there might be a dose-dependency of childhood leukemia for aberrantly expressed IRF4, a characteristic that could be explored therapeutically. It is also suggested that high IRF4 expression might be used as an additional prognostic marker of relapse at diagnosis.
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