Volkmer, Hansjürgen; Bertholet, Christine; Jonjic, Stipan; Wittek, Riccardo; Koszinowski, Ulrich H.
Cytolytic T lymphocyte recognition of the murine cytomegalovirus nonstructural immediate-early protein pp89 expressed by recombinant vaccinia virus.
In: The journal of experimental medicine, Vol. 166: pp. 668-677
The murine immediate-early (IE) protein pp89 is a nonstructural virus- encoded phosphoprotein residing in the nucleus of infected cells, where it acts as transcriptional activator. Frequency analysis has shown that in BALB/c mice the majority of virus-specific CTL recognize IE antigens. The present study was performed to assess whether pp89 causes membrane antigen expression detected by IE-specific CTL. Site-directed mutagenesis has been used to delete the introns from gene ieI, encoding pp89, for subsequent integration of the continuous coding sequence into the vaccinia virus genome. After infection with the vaccinia recombinant, the authentic pp89 was expressed in cells that became susceptible to lysis by an IE-specific CTL clone. Priming of mice with the vaccinia recombinant sensitized polyclonal CTL that recognized MCMV- infected cells and transfected cells expressing pp89. Thus, a herpesviral IE polypeptide with essential function in viral transcriptional regulation can also serve as a dominant antigen for the specific CTL response of the host.