Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


How a virus hides from the immune system


A new study by the group of Professor Sebastian Springer at Jacobs University helps explain how viruses manage to go undetected when they infect body cells. They have shown that the gp40 protein of the murine cytomegalovirus (mCMV) binds to cellular proteins that are essential for the antiviral immune defense and holds them back inside the cell. This blocks the immune response against mCMV.

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules play a pivotal role in the immune defense against intracellular parasites, such as viruses. Inside the cell, they selectively bind small pieces of the virus that are generated during infection and transport them to the cell surface to display the infection to the immune system, a process called antigen presentation.

Specialized immune cells, the cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), can recognize those viral pieces and, in turn, kill the infected cell in order to fight the infection (see left part of figure).

It is not astonishing that many viruses aim to interfere with antigen presentation by MHC class I molecules to circumvent elimination. Herpesviruses are masters of immunoevasion and possess a series of multiple interfering proteins, the immunoevasins:

The gp40 protein of mCMV inhibits the transport of MHC class I molecules to the cell surface and thus viral recognition by CTL. Instead, MHC class I molecules are retained inside the cell (see right part of figure).

"We have shown for the first time that gp40 binds to MHC class I molecules", says Professor Springer. "We do not yet know how gp40 itself is kept inside the cell, but we believe that it uses another protein as some sort of anchor." The researchers identified a region in the gp40 protein, the linker, which probably binds to this unknown cellular retention factor (see right part of figure).

"It is an amazingly effective strategy for a virus to escape from the immune response", concludes Professor Springer. "Cytomegaloviruses and other herpesviruses infect humans and animals and cause many diseases. We need to understand more about immune escape so that effective treatments can be designed."

The findings will soon be published in the “Journal of Cell Science”. Linda Janßen, Venkat Raman Ramnarayan, Mohamed Aboelmagd, Maria Iliopoulou, Zeynep Hein, Irina Majoul, Susanne Fritzsche, Anne Halenius, and Sebastian Springer: “The murine cytomegalovirus immunoevasin gp40 binds MHC class I molecules to retain them in the early secretory pathway”, Journal of Cell Science, 2015. The study was financed in part by the Tönjes Vagt Foundation of Bremen.

Sebastian Springer | Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology | Tel.: +49 421 200- 3243

About Jacobs University:
Jacobs University is a private, independent, English-language university in Bremen. Young people from all over the world study there on Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD courses. Jacobs University is international and trans-discipline: research and teaching do not pursue one single pathway, but instead approach issues from the viewpoints of different disciplines. This is what makes Jacobs’ graduates highly sought-after for employment in successful international careers.

Kristina Logemann | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>