Immune Control Mechanisms over EBV Infection
The sequencing of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genome (1) hopened the way to identify the complete spectrum of virus-coded proteins and to determine what controls their expression in infected cells. As the number of known viral proteins increases so one can begin to define ever more precisely the spectrum of immune response which the virus infection elicits in vivo. This catalogueing process is already well underway with respect to the anti-viral antibody response, where immunoblot analysis of serological reactivities is now complementing the original immunofluorescence methods which the pioneering work of the Henle did so much to establish. Identifying the antigenic specificity of EBV-induced T cell responses is less well advanced, but ultimately the same kind of precise analysis should be possible for the cellular response as for that mediated by antibodies. Faced with an infectious agent which can encode between 50 and 1 potential antigens, one should ask which of these many proteins are actually targets of effective immune responses i.e. those responses which have the potential either to prevent the initial virus infection or to control the numbers of virus-infected cell which accumulate in vivo.
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