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

Influence of KIR gene diversity on the course of HSV-1 infection: resistance to the disease is associated with the absence of KIR2DL2 and KIR2DS2.

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) causes lifelong latent infections in most humans. Periodical virus reactivations from latency in the neurons of sensitive ganglia lead to transport to mucocutaneous regions and productive replication, which results in recurrent inflammatory herpetic lesions or in asymptomatic virus shedding. The medical consequences of such lesions and the frequency of recurrences vary greatly in different subjects. Furthermore, many infected individuals never suffer manifestations of the disease, even when exposed to stimuli that trigger clinical recurrences in other humans. The origin of the variability in the clinical course of HSV-1 infection remains unexplained. Herpesviruses and other pathogens sabotage the expression of major histocompatibility complex class I molecules by infected cells, thus subverting T-cell-mediated immunity. Subversion of antigen presentation is counteracted by natural killer cells, which survey the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) expression by specific receptors. These include the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs), which are encoded by a complex of extremely diverse and rapidly evolving genes. Here, we analyze the contribution of KIR gene diversity to the variable clinical course of HSV-1 infection by comparing the distribution of these genes in humans with clinical manifestations of the disease with that in asymptomatically infected donors. This study provides preliminary evidence that the receptors KIR2DL2 and KIR2DS2 predispose to symptomatic HSV-1 infection and favor the frequently recurring forms of the disease. Possible contribution of the 'HLA-C1' ligand to HSV-1 disease was not statistically supported. Because of an absolute genetic linkage between KIR2DL2 and KIR2DS2, we could not determine which receptor was primarily responsible for the observed association, but our results suggest that presence in the genome of KIR2DL2 and KIR2DS2 hinders an effective cellular response to HSV-1.[1]


  1. Influence of KIR gene diversity on the course of HSV-1 infection: resistance to the disease is associated with the absence of KIR2DL2 and KIR2DS2. Estefanía, E., Gómez-Lozano, N., Portero, F., de Pablo, R., Solís, R., Sepúlveda, S., Vaquero, M., González, M.A., Suárez, E., Roustán, G., Vilches, C. Tissue. Antigens (2007) [Pubmed]
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