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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Human cytomegalovirus-encoded UL16 discriminates MIC molecules by their alpha2 domains.

Human CMV infection results in MHC class I down-regulation and induction of NKG2D ligand expression favoring NK recognition of infected cells. However, human CMV-encoded UL16 counteracts surface expression of several NKG2D ligands by intracellular retention. Interestingly, UL16 interacts with MICB, but not with the closely related MICA, and with UL16-binding proteins (ULBP) ULBP1 and ULBP2, which are only distantly related to MICB, but not with ULPB3 or ULBP4, although all constitute ligands for NKG2D. Here, we dissected the molecular basis of MICA-MICB discrimination by UL16 to elucidate its puzzling binding behavior. We report that the UL16-MICB interaction is independent of glycosylation and demonstrate that selective MICB recognition by UL16 is governed by helical structures of the MICB alpha2 domain. Transplantation of the MICB alpha2 domain confers UL16 binding capacity to MICA, and thus, diversification of the MICA alpha2 domain may have been driven by the selective pressure exerted by UL16.[1]


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