HLA-associated protection of lymphocytes during influenza virus infection

Eliana E. Ochoa, Ruksana Huda, Steven F. Scheibel, Joan E. Nichols, David J. Mock, Nayef El-Daher, Frank M. Domurat, Norbert J. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Heterozygosity at HLA class I loci is generally considered beneficial for host defense. We report here an element of HLA class I homozygosity that may or may not help preserve its existence in populations but which could indicate a new avenue for antiviral research. Methods: Lymphocytes from serologically HLA-homozygous or -heterozygous donors were examined for synthesis of influenza virus proteins and RNA after exposure to virus as peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The virus-exposed lymphocytes were also examined for internalization of the virus after exposure, and for susceptibility to virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in comparison with virus-exposed monocytes/macrophages and unseparated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Results were compared using two-tailed Fisher's exact test. Results: Serologically-defined HLA-A2-homozygous lymphocytes, in contrast to heterozygous lymphocytes, did not synthesize detectable influenza virus RNA or protein after exposure to the virus. HLA-A2-homozygous lymphocytes, including both homozygous and heterozygous donors by genetic sequence subtyping, did internalize infectious virus but were not susceptible to lysis by autologous virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes ("fratricide"). Similar intrinsic resistance to influenza virus infection was observed with HLA-A1- and HLA-A11-homozygous lymphocytes and with HLA-B-homozygous lymphocytes. Conclusions: A significant proportion of individuals within a population that is characterized by common expression of HLA class I alleles may possess lymphocytes that are not susceptible to influenza virus infection and thus to mutual virus-specific lysis. Further study may identify new approaches to limit influenza virus infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128
Pages (from-to)128
JournalVirology Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 24 2020


  • HLA
  • Homozygosity
  • Human leukocyte antigen
  • Human lymphocytes
  • Influenza virus
  • Monocytes/macrophages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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