Vaccinia infection interferes with the presentation of influenza Haemagglutinin (HA) and Nucleoprotein (NP) to class I-restricted CTL. The inhibitory effect is selective for certain epitopes, and is more profound during the late phase of infection. For influenza A/NT/60/68 NP, the block is present during both early and late phases of infection, and is selective for the COOH-terminal epitope defined by peptide 366-379, having no detectable effect on the presentation of the NH2-terminal epitope 50-63. The presentation of HA is inhibited only during the late phase of vaccinia infection. For both proteins, presentation is partially (NP) or completely (HA) restored by expression of rapidly degraded protein fragments in the vaccinia infected target cell. For HA, deletion of the NH2-terminal signal sequence completely overcomes the block. For NP, either a large NH2-terminal deletion or the construction of a rapidly degraded ubiquitin-NP fusion protein partially restores presentation. These results illustrate the relationship between degradation of viral proteins in the cytoplasm of an infected cell and recognition of epitopes at the cell surface by class I-restricted T cells.

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