The human specific poxvirus molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV) produces skin lesions that can persist with minimal inflammation, suggesting that the virus has developed robust immune evasion strategies. However, investigations into the underlying mechanisms of MCV pathogenesis have been hindered by the lack of a model system to propagate the virus. Herein we demonstrate that MCV-encoded MC80 can disrupt MHC-I antigen presentation in human and mouse cells. MC80 shares moderate sequence-similarity with MHC-I and we find that it associates with components of the peptide-loading complex. Expression of MC80 results in ER-retention of host MHC-I and thereby reduced cell surface presentation. MC80 accomplishes this by engaging tapasin via its luminal domain, targeting it for ubiquitination and ER-associated degradation in a process dependent on the MC80 transmembrane region and cytoplasmic tail. Tapasin degradation is accompanied by a loss of TAP, which limits MHC-I access to cytosolic peptides. Our findings reveal a unique mechanism by which MCV undermines adaptive immune surveillance.
|State||Published - Apr 2019|