3 years ago

Murine gammaherpesvirus M2 antigen modulates splenic B cell activation and terminal differentiation in vivo

Samuel H. Speck, Shariya Terrell

by Shariya Terrell, Samuel H. Speck

Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) infection of laboratory strains of mice has provided a tractable small animal model for dissecting gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis. The MHV68 latency associated antigen M2 promotes viral latency establishment in germinal center (GC) B cells and plays an important role in virus infection of plasma cells (PCs), which is linked to virus reactivation. More recently, M2 has been highlighted as a potent immunomodulatory molecule capable of hindering both cell-mediated and humoral immunity to MHV68 infection and subsequent challenges. M2 expression in B cells results in activation of B cell receptor signaling pathways that promote proliferation, differentiation, and cytokine production—a hallmark of gammaherpesviruses. In this study, we utilized an adoptive transfer model to explore the biological consequence of M2 expression in activated B cells in vivo. Secondly, we engineered and validated two independent MHV68 M2 reporter viruses that track M2 protein expression in latently infected B cells during infection. Here we demonstrate that upon adoptive transfer into naive mice, M2 expression promotes activated primary B cells to competitively establish residency in the spleen as either a GC B cell or a PC, most notably in the absence of an ongoing GC reaction. Moreover, M2 antigen drives robust PC differentiation and IL10 production in vivo in the absence of other viral factors. Lastly, we confirm that M2 expression during MHV68 infection is localized to the GC compartment, which is a long term latency reservoir for GHVs. Overall, these observations are consistent with, and extend upon previous reports of M2 function in B cells and within the context of MHV68 infection. Moreover, this work provides support for a model by which M2-driven dysregulation of B cell function compromises multiple aspects of antiviral immunity to achieve persistence within the infected host.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006543

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