Little is known about the role of CD1d-restricted T cells in antiviral immune responses. Here we show that the lytic replication cycle of the Kaposi sarcoma–associated herpesvirus (KSHV) promotes downregulation of cell-surface CD1d. This is caused by expression of the 2 modulator of immune recognition (MIR) proteins of the virus, each of which promotes the loss of surface CD1d expression following transfection into uninfected cells. Inhibition of CD1d surface expression is due to ubiquitination of the CD1d α-chain on a unique lysine residue in its cytoplasmic tail, which triggers endocytosis. Unlike MIR-mediated MHC class I downregulation, however, CD1d downregulation does not appear to include accelerated lysosomal degradation. MIR2-induced downregulation of CD1d results in reduced activation of CD1d-restricted T cells in vitro. KSHV modulation of CD1d expression represents a strategy for viral evasion of innate host immune responses and implicates CD1d-restricted T cells as regulators of this viral infection.
David Jesse Sanchez, Jenny E. Gumperz, Don Ganem