Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Julia K. Hilliard - Chair

Second Advisor

Roberta Attanasio

Third Advisor

Susanna F. Greer


B virus (Macacine herpesvirus 1, Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1, herpes B virus) is an Old World monkey simplex virus endemic in macaques. B virus infection in its natural host, macaque, is very similar to HSV-­‐1 infection in humans causing mild or asymptomatic infection. On the other hand, zoonotic infection in humans results in death in the absence of early initiation of antiviral drugs. Viruses evade host immune responses in order to survive and propagate. Most herpes viruses including HSV-­‐1 down-­‐regulate major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC class I) surface expression on infected cells in order to prevent CD8+ T-­‐cell recognition and subsequent cell lysis. MHC class I molecules bind to the inhibitory receptors of NK cells and prevent NK cell activity. Thus, this mechanism protects HSV-­‐1 infected cells from CD8+ T-­‐cell lysis, making them sensitive to natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity. To investigate if B virus pathogenicity is a result of novel immune evasion mechanisms employed by B virus, we determined NK cell regulation during B virus infection. To this end, our experiments demonstrate that B virus does not down-­‐ regulate MHC I expression as effectively as HSV-­‐1, leading us to hypothesize that B virus in-­‐ fected cells are resistant to NK cell activity. We examined the expression of MHC I chain related genes (MICA/ MICB), which are activation ligands to NKG2D receptors on NK cells. Our results show that there is no significant difference in MICA and MICB expression between HSV-­‐1 and B virus infected cells. Furthermore, we tested for the up-­‐regulation of cytokines and chemokines responsible for NK cell activation and migration. Our results indicate a significant up-­‐regulation of IFN-­‐α from PBMCs co-­‐cultured with HSV-­‐1 infected cells, which plays an important role in activating NK cells. NK cells within these PBMCs up-­‐regulate perforin release indicative of NK cell activity. PBMCs co-­‐cultured with B virus infected cells do not up-­‐regulate any cytokines or chemokines responsible for NK cell activity. As a result the NK cells within these PBMCs do not significantly up-­‐regulate perforin release. These results demonstrate that B virus employs a novel immune evasion mechanism to subvert NK cell activity.

Included in

Biology Commons