Viral exploitation and subversion of the immune system through chemokine mimicry

Nat Immunol. 2001 Feb;2(2):116-22. doi: 10.1038/84214.


The chemokine superfamily of leukocyte chemoattractants coordinates development and deployment of the immune system by signaling through a family of G protein-coupled receptors. The importance of this system to antimicrobial host defense has been supported by the discovery of numerous herpesviruses and poxviruses that encode chemokine mimics able to block chemokine action. However, specific herpesviruses and lentiviruses can also exploit the immune system through chemokine mimicry, for example, to facilitate viral dissemination or, as in the case of HIV-1, to directly infect leukocyte target cells. The study of viral mimicry of chemokines and chemokine receptors is providing important new concepts in viral immunopathogenesis, new anti-inflammatory drug leads and new targets and concepts for antiviral drug and vaccine development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemokines / immunology*
  • Cytomegalovirus / immunology
  • Gene Products, tat / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / immunology
  • Humans
  • Molecular Mimicry / immunology*
  • Viruses / immunology*
  • Viruses / pathogenicity*


  • Chemokines
  • Gene Products, tat