Journal of Virology
Complement activation is an important component of the innate immune response against viral infection and also shapes adaptive immune responses. Despite compelling evidence that complement activation enhances T cell and antibody (Ab) responses during viral infection, it is unknown whether inhibition of complement by pathogens alters these responses. Vaccinia virus (VACV) modulates complement activation by encoding a complement regulatory protein called the vaccinia virus complement control protein (VCP). Although VCP has been described as a virulence factor, the mechanisms by which VCP enhances VACV pathogenesis have not been fully defined. Since complement is necessary for optimal adaptive immune responses to several viruses, we hypothesized that VCP contributes to pathogenesis by modulating anti-VACV T cell and Ab responses. In this study, we used an intradermal model of VACV infection to compare pathogenesis of wild-type virus (vv-VCPwt) and a virus lacking VCP (vv-VCPko). vv-VCPko formed smaller lesions in wild-type mice but not in complement-deficient mice. Attenuation of vv-VCPko correlated with increased accumulation of T cells at the site of infection, enhanced neutralizing antibody responses, and reduced viral titers. Importantly, depleting CD8(+) T cells together with CD4(+) T cells, which also eliminated T helper cell-dependent Ab responses, restored vv-VCPko to wild-type levels of virulence. These results suggest that VCP contributes to virulence by dampening both antibody and T cell responses. This work provides insight into how modulation of complement by poxviruses contributes to virulence and demonstrates that a pathogen-encoded complement regulatory protein can modulate adaptive immunity.
Girgis NM, DeHaven BC, Xiao Y, Isaacs SN. The vaccinia virus complement control protein modulates adaptive immune responses during infection. J Virol. 2011 Mar;85(6):2547-56. Epub 2010 Dec 29.