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Natural killer (NK) cells are implicated as important anti-viral immune effectors in varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection. VZV can productively infect human NK cells, yet it is unknown how, or if, VZV can directly affect NK cell function. Here we demonstrate that VZV potently impairs the ability of NK cells to respond to target cell stimulation in vitro, leading to a loss of both cytotoxic and cytokine responses. Remarkably, not only were VZV infected NK cells affected, but VZV antigen negative NK cells that were exposed to virus in culture were also inhibited. This powerful impairment of function was dependent on direct contact between NK cells and VZV infected inoculum cells. Profiling of the NK cell surface receptor phenotype by multiparameter flow cytometry revealed that functional receptor expression is predominantly stable. Furthermore, inhibited NK cells were still capable of releasing cytotoxic granules when the stimulation signal bypassed receptor/ligand interactions and early signalling, suggesting that VZV paralyses NK cells from responding. Phosflow examination of key components in the degranulation signalling cascade also demonstrated perturbation following culture with VZV. In addition to inhibiting degranulation, IFN-γ and TNF production were also repressed by VZV co-culture, which was most strongly regulated in VZV infected NK cells. Interestingly, the closely related virus, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), was also capable of efficiently infecting NK cells in a cell-associated manner, and demonstrated a similar capacity to render NK cells unresponsive to target cell stimulation-however HSV-1 differentially targeted cytokine production compared to VZV. Our findings progress a growing understanding of pathogen inhibition of NK cell function, and reveal a previously unreported strategy for VZV to manipulate the immune response.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PLoS pathogens
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Bone marrow-derived lymphocytes that possess cytotoxic properties, classically directed against transformed and virus-infected cells. Unlike T CELLS; and B CELLS; NK CELLS are not antigen specific. The cytotoxicity of natural killer cells is determined by the collective signaling of an array of inhibitory and stimulatory CELL SURFACE RECEPTORS. A subset of T-LYMPHOCYTES referred to as NATURAL KILLER T CELLS shares some of the properties of this cell type.
A specialized subset of T-LYMPHOCYTES that exhibit features of INNATE IMMUNITY similar to that of NATURAL KILLER CELLS. They are reactive to glycolipids presented in the context of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I-like molecule, CD1D ANTIGEN.
Receptors that are specifically found on the surface of NATURAL KILLER CELLS. They play an important role in regulating the cellular component of INNATE IMMUNITY.
Cytolytic lymphocytes with the unique capacity of killing natural killer (NK)-resistant fresh tumor cells. They are INTERLEUKIN-2-activated NK cells that have no MAJOR HISTOCOMPATIBILITY COMPLEX restriction or need for antigen stimulation. LAK cells are used for ADOPTIVE IMMUNOTHERAPY in cancer patients.
Immunized T-lymphocytes which can directly destroy appropriate target cells. These cytotoxic lymphocytes may be generated in vitro in mixed lymphocyte cultures (MLC), in vivo during a graft-versus-host (GVH) reaction, or after immunization with an allograft, tumor cell or virally transformed or chemically modified target cell. The lytic phenomenon is sometimes referred to as cell-mediated lympholysis (CML). These CD8-positive cells are distinct from NATURAL KILLER CELLS and NATURAL KILLER T-CELLS. There are two effector phenotypes: TC1 and TC2.
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