NK cell-mediated resistance to murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) is controlled by allelic Ly49 receptors, including activating Ly49H (C57BL/6 strain) and inhibitory Ly49I (129 strain), which specifically recognize MCMV m157, a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked protein with homology to MHC class I. Although the Ly49 receptors retain significant homology to classic carbohydrate-binding lectins, the role of glycosylation in ligand binding is unclear. Herein, we show that m157 is expressed in multiple, differentially N-glycosylated isoforms in m157-transduced or MCMV-infected cells. We used site-directed mutagenesis to express single and combinatorial asparagine (N)-to-glutamine (Q) mutations at N178, N187, N213, and N267 in myeloid and fibroblast cell lines. Progressive loss of N-linked glycans led to a significant reduction of total cellular m157 abundance, although all variably glycosylated m157 isoforms were expressed at the cell surface and retained the capacity to activate Ly49HB6 and Ly49I129 reporter cells and Ly49H+ NK cells. However, the complete lack of N-linked glycans on m157 destabilized the m157-Ly49H interaction and prevented physical transfer of m157 to Ly49H-expressing cells. Thus, glycosylation on m157 enhances expression and binding to Ly49H, factors that may impact the interaction between NK cells and MCMV in vivo where receptor-ligand interactions are more limiting.
- NK cell
- Viral immunity