Mouse Cytomegalovirus Viral Decoy Mechanism


December 2015


Professor Michael Corrin, Biomedical Communications

Dr. James R. Carlyle and Oscar A. Aguilar,

University of Toronto Department of Immunology


Adobe Illustrator


The goal of this piece was to visualize Dr. Carlyle's research in a diagrammatic style appropriate for publication in a scientific journal. It depicts how the mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV) uses a viral decoy ligand that functionally mimics the mClr-b ligand on a healthy mouse fibroblast cell to avoid activation of natural killer (NK) cells. 

Research was conducted on my own and using reference papers recommended by Dr. Carlyle and Oscar Aguilar. Iterations of the piece were brought to the immunologists for review of content accuracy and updated as needed.

Panel 1 shows the normal interactions between a natural killer cell and a healthy mouse fibroblast cell, and how the mClr-b ligand binds to the inhibitory NKR-P1B receptor to prevent NK cell activation.

Panel 2 shows the infection of a healthy fibroblast cell by MCMV, and how the fibroblast cell subsequently downregulates mClr-b in an effort to induce NK cell activation.

Panel 3a shows what would happen next without a viral decoy ligand.

Panel 3b shows what happens next when a viral decoy ligand is present.

I chose to label the third and fourth panels as 3a and 3b rather than 3 and 4 because they are not sequential steps, they are two variations following the same step.