To initiate membrane fusion and virus entry, herpes simplex virus (HSV) gD binds to a cellular receptor such as herpesvirus entry mediator (HVEM). HVEM is a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor family member with four natural ligands that either stimulate (LIGHT and LTα) or inhibit (BTLA and CD160) T cell function. We hypothesized that the interaction of gD with HVEM affects the binding of natural ligands, thereby modulating the immune response during infection. Here, we investigated the effect that gD has on the interaction of HVEM with its natural ligands. First, HSV gD on virions or cells downregulates HVEM from the cell surface. Similarly, trans-interaction with BTLA or LIGHT also downregulates HVEM from the cell surface, suggesting that HSV may subvert a natural mechanism for regulating HVEM activity. Second, we showed that wild-type gD had the lowest affinity for HVEM compared with the four natural ligands. Moreover, gD directly competed for binding to HVEM with BTLA but not LTα or LIGHT, indicating the possibility that gD selectively controls HVEM signals. On the other hand, natural ligands influence the use of HVEM by HSV. For instance, soluble BTLA, LTα, and LIGHT inhibited the binding of wild-type gD to HVEM, and soluble BTLA and LTα blocked HSV infection of HVEM-expressing cells. Thus, gD is at the center of the interplay between HVEM and its ligands. It can interfere with HVEM function in two ways, by competing with the natural ligands and by downregulating HVEM from the cell surface.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science