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Advances in Virology
Volume 2012, Article ID 359869, 10 pages
Review Article

Human Herpesviridae Methods of Natural Killer Cell Evasion

1School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1600 6th Avenue South, CHB 118C, Birmingham, AL 35233-1701, USA
2Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1530 3rd Avenue South, FOT 1060, Birmingham, AL 35294-3410, USA
3Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1530 3rd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-3410, USA
4Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 600 7th Avenue South, CHB 118, Birmingham, AL 35233-1701, USA

Received 4 March 2012; Accepted 24 April 2012

Academic Editor: John Frater

Copyright © 2012 Carl I. Odom et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Human herpesviruses cause diseases of considerable morbidity and mortality, ranging from encephalitis to hematologic malignancies. As evidence emerges about the role of innate immunity and natural killer (NK) cells in the control of herpesvirus infection, evidence of viral methods of innate immune evasion grows as well. These methods include interference with the ligands on infected cell surfaces that bind NK cell activating or inhibitory receptors. This paper summarizes the most extensively studied NK cell receptor/ligand pairs and then describes the methods of NK cell evasion used by all eight herpesviruses through these receptors and ligands. Although great strides have been made in elucidating their mechanisms, there is still a disparity between viruses in the amount of knowledge regarding innate immune evasion. Further research of herpesvirus innate immune evasion can provide insight for circumventing viral mechanisms in future therapies.