The antigen presentation molecule MR1 presents ligands derived from the riboflavin (vitamin B) synthesis pathway, which is not present in mammalian species or viruses, to Mucosal Associated Invariant T (MAIT) cells. In this study, we demonstrate that Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) profoundly suppresses MR1 expression. We show that VZV targets the intracellular reservoir of immature MR1 for degradation, whilst pre-existing, ligand bound cell surface MR1 is protected from such targeting; thereby highlighting an intricate temporal relationship between infection and ligand availability. We also identify VZV open reading frame (ORF) 66 as functioning to suppress MR1 expression when this viral protein is expressed during transient transfection, but this is not apparent during infection with a VZV mutant virus lacking ORF66 expression. This indicates that VZV is likely to encode multiple viral genes that target MR1. Overall, we identify an immunomodulatory function of VZV whereby infection suppresses the MR1 biosynthesis pathway.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Infectious Diseases|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 14 Oct 2021|