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Human herpesvirus-6B induces expression of the human endogenous retrovirus K18-encoded superantigen

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  • Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology
BACKGROUND: The superantigen, encoded by the envelope gene (env) of the human endogenous retrovirus (HERV)-K18, may be involved in autoimmunity. Its expression is transactivated in B cells during infection with Epstein-Barr virus and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) that are treated with IFN-alpha. OBJECTIVES: We investigated whether HHV-6B infection was able to induce the expression of HERV-K18 env. STUDY DESIGN: The expression of HERV-K18 env gene was measured by real-time quantitative PCR in HHV-6B-infected PBMC. RESULTS: Infection of PBMCs with HHV-6B resulted in a rapid and dose-dependent induction of HERV-K18 env gene expression, predominantly in monocytes. Induction was dependent on the interaction of glycoprotein H with CD46, but did not require viral transcription or DNA synthesis. Cycloheximide inhibited both the induction and basal expression of HERV-K18 env, indicating that de novo synthesis of proteins was necessary. CONCLUSIONS: HHV-6B induced transcriptional activation of the endogenous superantigen HERV-K18 independently of virus replication, which may have consequences for the development of autoimmunity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Pages (from-to)15-9
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • Cells, Cultured, Endogenous Retroviruses, Gene Expression Profiling, Herpesvirus 6, Human, Humans, Leukocytes, Mononuclear, Membrane Proteins, Superantigens

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