Gammaherpesvirus-driven plasma cell differentiation regulates virus reactivation from latently infected B lymphocytes

Xiaozhen Liang, Christopher M. Collins, Justin B. Mendel, Neal N. Iwakoshi, Samuel H. Speck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations

Abstract

Gammaherpesviruses chronically infect their host and are tightly associated with the development of lymphoproliferative diseases and lymphomas, as well as several other types of cancer. Mechanisms involved in maintaining chronic gammaherpesvirus infections are poorly understood and, in particular, little is known about the mechanisms involved in controlling gammaherpesvirus reactivation from latently infected B cells in vivo. Recent evidence has linked plasma cell differentiation with reactivation of the human gammaherpesviruses EBV and KSHV through induction of the immediate-early viral transcriptional activators by the plasma cell-specific transcription factor XBP-1s. We now extend those findings to document a role for a gammaherpesvirus gene product in regulating plasma cell differentiation and thus virus reactivation. We have previously shown that the murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) gene product M2 is dispensable for virus replication in permissive cells, but plays a critical role in virus reactivation from latently infected B cells. Here we show that in mice infected with wild type MHV68, virus infected plasma cells (ca. 8% of virus infected splenocytes at the peak of viral latency) account for the majority of reactivation observed upon explant of splenocytes. In contrast, there is an absence of virus infected plasma cells at the peak of latency in mice infected with a M2 null MHV68. Furthermore, we show that the M2 protein can drive plasma cell differentiation in a B lymphoma cell line in the absence of any other MHV68 gene products. Thus, the role of M2 in MHV68 reactivation can be attributed to its ability to manipulate plasma cell differentiation, providing a novel viral strategy to regulate gammaherpesvirus reactivation from latently infected B cells. We postulate that M2 represents a new class of herpesvirus gene products (reactivation conditioners) that do not directly participate in virus replication, but rather facilitate virus reactivation by manipulating the cellular milieu to provide a reactivation competent environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1000677
JournalPLoS pathogens
Volume5
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

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