Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have identified a critical human cell surface molecule involved in infection by Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV), the virus that causes Kaposi’s sarcoma and certain forms of lymphoma. Kaposi’s sarcoma is a major cancer associated with HIV/AIDS, and it typically manifests as multiple purple-hued skin lesions.
In the March 31, 2006 issue of Science, NIAID research fellow Johnan Kaleeba, Ph.D. and senior investigator Edward A. Berger; Ph.D., describe how the molecule xCT is a major gateway that KSHV uses to enter human cells. The molecule may also play a role in the development of Kaposi’s sarcoma and other syndromes associated with the virus.
The natural function of xCT in the body is to transport molecules necessary for protecting against stress into cells. When cells are stressed, they express more xCT on their surfaces. Of note, this sort of stress can be caused by KSHV itself. This suggests that the virus may facilitate its own infectivity and dissemination in the body by inducing a physiological state that results in increased numbers of its own receptor.
"The advancement of knowledge achieved in this study highlights the outstanding intramural research that takes place here on the NIH campus," says Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., NIH director.
"Understanding the mechanisms of cell entry of Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus is a landmark achievement in and of itself," says NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "But the connection between the virus and expression of its own receptor on a cell is even more provocative because it might change the way we think about KSHV-associated diseases and their treatment."
Although less common in the United States now than early in the AIDS pandemic, Kaposi’s sarcoma is still the most common cancer associated with HIV infection. Prior to the AIDS pandemic, it was an obscure disease. First identified as a multi-pigmented skin disease by a Hungarian doctor named Moritz Kaposi in 1872, it was considered to be quite rare--a medical curiosity usually found in particular populations such as older Italian men, transplant patients and young men in certain parts of sub-Saharan Africa. But then at the dawn of the AIDS pandemic in the early 1980s, the small purplish Kaposi’s sarcoma skin lesions began appearing on the bodies of young American men, many of whom went on to develop opportunistic infections.
Dr. Berger became interested in KSHV because of his interest in how viruses enter cells. A decade ago, his research team was the first to identify CXCR4 as one of the coreceptors that allows HIV to gain entry into cells of the immune system. This discovery quickly led to the identification by Dr. Berger’s group and several other research teams of CCR5 as the other HIV coreceptor.
By applying the same technology used to identify CXCR4, Drs. Kaleeba and Berger ultimately identified the protein xCT as the receptor that can make cells permissive for KSHV fusion.
The NIAID discovery may lead to new avenues for treating KSHV, says Dr. Berger. Moreover, their finding should enable scientists to determine whether levels of xCT determine disease severity. It also will allow researchers to study whether the expression of xCT on cells varies among different groups of people and whether these variations are genetic or environmental. This research may ultimately explain why certain groups are more at risk for Kaposi’s sarcoma.
"Our finding provides a new perspective on the disease," says Dr. Kaleeba, who is originally from Uganda where Kaposi’s sarcoma accounts for at least 10 percent of known tumors. "Hopefully this will be the beginning of exciting new directions in this field, as it is likely to provide a useful framework for integration of the cell biology and epidemiology of this clinically important virus."
Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!
Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University
How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy