Herpesviruses and immunity: The art of evasion

Bryan D. Griffin, Marieke C. Verweij, Emmanuel J.H.J. Wiertz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Herpesviruses have evolved several effective strategies to counter the host immune response. Chief among these is inhibition of the host MHC class I antigen processing and presentation pathway, thereby reducing the presentation of virus-derived epitopes on the surface of the infected cell. This review summarizes the mechanisms used by herpesviruses to achieve this goal, including shut-down of MHC class I molecule synthesis, blockage of proteasome-mediated peptide generation and prevention of TAP-mediated peptide transport. Furthermore, herpesvirus proteins can retain MHC class I molecules in the endoplasmic reticulum, or direct their retrograde translocation from the endoplasmic reticulum or endocytosis from the plasma membrane, with subsequent degradation. The resulting down-regulation of cell surface MHC class I peptide complexes thwarts the ability of cytotoxic T lymphocytes to recognize and eliminate virus-infected cells. The subversion of the natural killer cell response by herpesvirus proteins and microRNAs is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-100
Number of pages12
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Antigen presentation
  • Herpesvirus
  • Immune evasion
  • MHC class I molecule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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