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!
'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells
20.02.2018 | Biophysical Society
New printing technique uses cells and molecules to recreate biological structures
20.02.2018 | Queen Mary University of London
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
20.02.2018 | Life Sciences
20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering
20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy