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Soluble factors produced by activated CD4+ T cells modulate EBV latency

Nagy, Noémi, Ádori, Mónika, Rasul, Abu, Heuts, Frank, Salamon, Daniel, Ujvári, Dorina, Madapura, Harsha S., Leveau, Benjamin, Klein, George, Klein, Eva
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2012 v.109 no.5 pp. 1512-1517
CD4-positive T-lymphocytes, coculture, neutralization, viral proteins, viruses
Following infection with Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), the virus is carried for life in the memory B-cell compartment in a silent state (latency I/0). These cells do not resemble the proliferating lymphoblastoid cells (LCLs) (latency III) that are generated after infection. It is of fundamental significance to identify how the different EBV expression patterns are established in the latently infected cell. In view of the prompt activatability of CD4+ T cells in primary EBV infection, and their role in B-cell differentiation, we studied the involvement of CD4+ T cells in the regulation of EBV latency. Lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) were cocultured with autologous or allogeneic CD4+ T cells. Activated T cells influenced the expression of two key viral proteins that determine the fate of the infected B cell. EBNA2 was down-regulated, whereas LMP1 was unregulated and the cells proliferated less. This was paralleled by the down-regulation of the latency III promoter (Cp). Experiments performed in the transwell system showed that this change does not require cell contact, but it is mediated by soluble factors. Neutralizing experiments proved that the up-regulation of LMP1 is, to some extent, mediated by IL21, but this cytokine was not responsible for EBNA2 down-regulation. This effect was partly mediated by soluble CD40L. We detected similar regulatory functions of T cells in in vitro-infected lymphocyte populations. In conclusion, our results revealed an additional mechanism by which CD4+ T cells can control the EBV-induced B-cell proliferation.