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Herpesviruses employ many mechanisms to evade the immune response, allowing them to persist life-long in their hosts. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) and, more recently, the latency-associated nuclear antigen 1 (LANA-1) of the Kaposi Sarcoma Herpesvirus have been shown to function as in cis-acting inhibitors of antigen presentation. In both proteins, long simple repeat elements are responsible for the inhibition, but the sequences of these repeats are strongly dissimilar. Intriguingly, EBNA-1 mRNA contains a large nested open reading frame that codes for a 40.7kDa strongly acidic protein, in addition to the full-length EBNA-1. This protein, here called pGZr, has a 230 amino-acids long glycine, glutamine, and glutamic acid-rich repeat ('GZ' repeat), highly similar (65% amino-acid identity) to the acidic repeat of LANA-1. To evaluate if pGZr, like EBNA-1 and LANA-1, can inhibit antigen presentation in cis, we fused the nested ORF with the E. coli-derived LacZ gene encoding beta-galactosidase. Whereas cells producing the unmodified beta-galactosidase readily present the H-2L(d)-restricted CTL epitope TPHPARIGL, which resides in the C-terminal region of beta-galactosidase, cells producing the pGZr-beta-galactosidase fusion protein do not. Also shorter fragments of the repeat can inhibit peptide presentation. Even though the physiological function of pGZr remains to be elucidated, the GZ-repeat protein may be valuable as inhibitor of presentation of antigenic peptides derived from transgenes in gene therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Immunol

Publication Date





3588 - 3596


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Antigen Presentation, Base Sequence, Cell Line, Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens, Humans, Mice, Molecular Sequence Data, Open Reading Frames, Peptides, RNA, Messenger, Recombinant Fusion Proteins, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic, Viral Proteins, beta-Galactosidase