The synthesis of truncated polypeptides for immune surveillance and viral evasion

Sylvain Cardinaud, Shelley R. Starck, Piyanka Chandra, Nilabh Shastri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cytotoxic T cells detect intracellular pathogens by surveying peptide loaded MHC class I molecules (pMHC I) on the cell surface. Effective immune surveillance also requires infected cells to present pMHC I promptly before viral progeny can escape. Rapid pMHC I presentation apparently occurs because infected cells can synthesize and present peptides from antigenic precursors called defective ribosomal products (DRiPs). The molecular characteristics of DRiPs are not known. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here, using a novel method for detecting antigenic precursors and proteolytic intermediates, we tracked the synthesis and processing of Epstein-Barr Virus encoded nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA1). We find that ribosomes initiated translation appropriately, but rapidly produced DRiPs representing ∼120 amino acid truncated EBNA1 polypeptides by premature termination. Moreover, specific sequences in EBNA1 mRNA strongly inhibited the generation of truncated DRiPs and pMHC I presentation. Significance: Our results reveal the first characterization of virus DRiPs as truncated translation products. Furthermore, production of EBNA1-derived DRiPs is down-regulated in cells, possibly limiting the antigenicity of EBNA1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere8692
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 21 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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