Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infects B cells and ~95% of adults are infected. EBV glycoprotein gp42 is essential for entry of virus into B cells. EBV gp42 binds to the β1 chain of HLA-DQ, -DR, and -DP on B cells, and uses these molecules for infection. To investigate if certain HLA-DQ alleles are associated with EBV seronegativity, we recruited ~3,300 healthy adult blood donors, identified 106 EBV-seronegative individuals, and randomly selected a control group of EBV-seropositive donors from the donor pool. A larger than expected proportion of EBV-seronegative subjects were HLA-DQ β1 *04/*05 and *06/*06, and to a lesser extent, *02/*03, compared with the control group, while a larger than expected portion of EBV-seropositive persons were HLA-DQ β1 *02/*02. We examined the ability of EBV gp42 to bind to different HLA-DQ molecules using human and mouse cells stably expressing these alleles. EBV gp42 bound less effectively to cells expressing HLA-DQ β1 *04/*05, *06/*06, or *03/*03 than to cells expressing HLA-DQ β1 *02/*02. These data are consistent with our observations of increased EBV seronegativity with DQ β1 *04/*05 or *06/*06 alleles. These findings emphasize the importance of a single genetic locus (HLA-DQ β1) to influence infectivity with EBV.
Qingxue Li, Wei Bu, Erin Gabriel, Fiona Aguilar, Yo Hoshino, Hiroko Miyadera, Christoph Hess, Ronald L. Hornung, Amitava Roy, Jeffrey I. Cohen
Lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) used in gp42 binding assays express similar levels of HLA-DQ on their cell surface.