Evidence for a viral superantigen in humans

Nature. 1992 Aug 6;358(6386):507-10. doi: 10.1038/358507a0.


Superantigens bind class II major histocompatibility proteins and stimulate powerful proliferative responses of T lymphocytes bearing particular V beta sequences as part of their alpha beta antigen receptor. Exogenous bacterial superantigens are responsible for food poisoning and toxic shock syndrome. Murine virus-encoded self-superantigens induce clonal deletion of T lymphocytes. Although superantigen-like properties have been suggested for human immunodeficiency virus-1, no viral superantigen has been identified in humans. Here we report that the nucleocapsid of the rabies virus is an exogenous superantigen specific for V beta 8 human T lymphocytes which binds to HLA class II alpha-chains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / physiology
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • Antigens, Viral / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Bacterial Toxins*
  • Capsid / immunology
  • Enterotoxins / immunology
  • HLA-D Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Rabies virus / immunology*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta / immunology
  • Superantigens*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Viral Core Proteins / immunology


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • HLA-D Antigens
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, alpha-beta
  • Superantigens
  • Viral Core Proteins
  • enterotoxin F, Staphylococcal