Modulation of host immune responses has emerged as a common strategy employed by herpesviruses both to establish life-long infections and to affect recovery from infection. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) blocks the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I antigen presentation pathway by inhibiting peptide transport into the endoplasmic reticulum. The interaction of viral gene products with the MHC class II pathway, however, has not been thoroughly investigated, although CD4+ T cells play an important role in human recovery from infection. We have investigated the stability, distribution, and state of MHC class II proteins in glioblastoma cells infected with wild-type HSV-1 or mutants lacking specific genes. We report the following findings, (i) Wild-type virus infection caused a decrease in the accumulation of class II protein on the surface of cells and a decrease in the endocytosis of lucifer yellow or dextran conjugated to fluorescein isothiocyanate but no decrease in the total amount of MHC class II proteins relative to the levels seen in mock-infected cells, (ii) Although the total amount of MHC class II protein remained unchanged, the amounts of cell surface MHC class II proteins were higher in cells infected with the UL41-negative mutant, which lacks the virion host shutoff protein, and especially high in cells infected with the γ134.5-negative mutant. We conclude that infected cells attempt to respond to infection by increased acquisition of antigens and transport of MHC class II proteins to the cell surface and that these responses are blocked in part by the virion host shutoff protein encoded by the U L41 gene and in large measure by the direct or indirect action of the infected cell protein 34.5, the product of the γ134.5 gene.
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