Structural basis of mouse cytomegalovirus m152/gp40 interaction with RAE1γ reveals a paradigm for MHC/MHC interaction in immune evasion
Natural killer (NK) cells are activated by engagement of the NKG2D receptor with ligands on target cells stressed by infection or tumorigenesis. Several human and rodent cytomegalovirus (CMV) immunoevasins down-regulate surface expression of NKG2D ligands. The mouse CMV MHC class I (MHC-I)–like m152/gp40 glycoprotein down-regulates retinoic acid early inducible-1 (RAE1) NKG2D ligands as well as host MHC-I. Here we describe the crystal structure of an m152/RAE1γ complex and confirm the intermolecular contacts by mutagenesis. m152 interacts in a pincer-like manner with two sites on the α1 and α2 helices of RAE1 reminiscent of the NKG2D interaction with RAE1. This structure of an MHC-I–like immunoevasin/MHC-I–like ligand complex explains the binding specificity of m152 for RAE1 and allows modeling of the interaction of m152 with classical MHC-I and of related viral immunoevasins.