KSHV infection drives poorly cytotoxic CD56-negative natural killer cell differentiation in vivo upon KSHV/EBV dual infection

Cell Rep. 2021 May 4;35(5):109056. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109056.


Herpesvirus infections shape the human natural killer (NK) cell compartment. While Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) expands immature NKG2A+ NK cells, human cytomegalovirus (CMV) drives accumulation of adaptive NKG2C+ NK cells. Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a close relative of EBV, and both are associated with lymphomas, including primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), which nearly always harbors both viruses. In this study, KSHV dual infection of mice with reconstituted human immune system components leads to the accumulation of CD56-CD16+CD38+CXCR6+ NK cells. CD56-CD16+ NK cells were also more frequently found in KSHV-seropositive Kenyan children. This NK cell subset is poorly cytotoxic against otherwise-NK-cell-susceptible and antibody-opsonized targets. Accordingly, NK cell depletion does not significantly alter KSHV infection in humanized mice. These data suggest that KSHV might escape NK-cell-mediated immune control by driving CD56-CD16+ NK cell differentiation.

Keywords: CD56-negative NK cells; EBV; Epstein-Barr virus; KSHV; Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus; humanized mouse model; natural killer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Mice