The immune evasion protein US3 of human cytomegalovirus binds to and arrests MHC class I molecules in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). However, substantial amounts of class I molecules still escape US3-mediated ER retention, suggesting that not all class I alleles are affected equally by US3. Here, we identify tapasin inhibition as the mechanism of MHC retention by US3. US3 directly binds tapasin and inhibits tapasin-dependent peptide loading, thereby preventing the optimization of the peptide repertoire presented by class I molecules. Due to the allelic specificity of tapasin toward class I molecules, US3 affects only class I alleles that are dependent on tapasin for peptide loading and surface expression. Accordingly, tapasin-independent class I alleles selectively escape to the cell surface.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Infectious Diseases