Use of a Virus-Encoded Enzymatic Marker Reveals that a Stable Fraction of Memory B Cells Expresses Latency-Associated Nuclear Antigen throughout Chronic Gammaherpesvirus Infection

Academic Article


  • ABSTRACT An integral feature of gammaherpesvirus infections is the ability to establish lifelong latency in B cells. During latency, the viral genome is maintained as an extrachomosomal episome, with stable maintenance in dividing cells mediated by the viral proteins Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) for Epstein-Barr virus and latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) for Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. It is believed that the expression of episome maintenance proteins is turned off in the predominant long-term latency reservoir of resting memory B cells, suggesting that chronic gammaherpesvirus infection is primarily dormant. However, the kinetics of LANA/EBNA-1 expression in individual B-cell subsets throughout a course of infection has not been examined. The infection of mice with murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68, γHV68) provides a model to determine the specific cellular and molecular events that occur in vivo during lifelong gammaherpesvirus latency. In work described here, we make use of a heterologously expressed enzymatic marker to define the types of B cells that express the LANA homolog (mLANA) during chronic MHV68 infection. Our data demonstrate that mLANA is expressed in a stable fraction of B cells throughout chronic infection, with a prominent peak at 28 days. The expression of mLANA was detected in naïve follicular B cells, germinal-center B cells, and memory B cells throughout infection, with germinal-center and memory B cells accounting for more than 80% of the mLANA-expressing cells during the maintenance phase of latency. These findings suggest that the maintenance phase of latency is an active process that involves the ongoing proliferation or reseeding of latently infected memory B cells.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Nealy MS; Coleman CB; Li H; Tibbetts SA
  • Start Page

  • 7523
  • End Page

  • 7534
  • Volume

  • 84
  • Issue

  • 15