Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study reveals new clues to Epstein-Barr virus

Researchers identify a second B-cell attachment receptor for this widespread virus

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) affects more than 90 percent of the population worldwide and was the first human virus found to be associated with cancer. Now, researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have broadened the understanding of this widespread infection with their discovery of a second B-cell attachment receptor for EBV.

The new findings, which currently appear on-line in Cell Reports, reinforce current directions being taken in the development of a vaccine to guard against EBV, and raise important new questions regarding the virus's possible relationship to malaria and to autoimmune diseases.

"Our discovery that CD35 is an attachment receptor for EBV helps explain several previously unsolved observations," explains the study's senior author Joyce Fingeroth, MD, a member of the Division of Infectious Diseases at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

First discovered in the early 1960s, EBV is one of eight viruses in the human herpesvirus family. The virus affects nine out of 10 people at some point in their lifetimes. Infections in early childhood often cause no disease symptoms, but people infected during adolescence or young adulthood may develop infectious mononucleosis. EBV is also associated with several types of cancer, including Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and has been linked to certain autoimmune disorders.

"EBV was the first human virus that was discovered to be a tumor virus," explains Fingeroth. "In fact, individuals who have had infectious mononucleosis have a four times increased risk of developing Hodgkin's disease." After the initial infection, the EBV virus remains in a person's body for life.

To gain entry, viruses must first attach to their host cells. For herpesviruses, receptors on the viral envelope become connected to complementary receptors on the cell membrane. In the case of EBV, the virus gains access to the immune system by attaching to primary B cells.

Nearly 30 years ago, Fingeroth and her colleagues discovered that this attachment occurs via the CD21 protein, which until now was the only known B cell attachment receptor for EBV. The recent finding that B cells from a patient lacking CD21 can be infected and immortalized by EBV had indicated that an alternative attachment receptor must exist. The identification of this second receptor -- CD35 -- by Fingeroth's team, led by first author Javier Ogembo, PhD, of BIDMC and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, not only underscores an important finding regarding primary infection but also underscores the importance of EBVgp350/220, (the virus protein that has been found to bind to both attachment receptors) for the development of a vaccine against EBV.

"The EBV glycoprotein gp350/220 is the most abundant surface glycoprotein on the virus," notes Fingeroth, adding that these results further suggest the virus fusion apparatus is the same for both receptors. "An EBV vaccine might be able to prevent infection or, alternatively, greatly reduce a person's risk of developing infectious mononucleosis and EBV-associated cancers, without necessarily preventing the EBV infection itself."

Interestingly, she adds, whereas a human has now been identified to be lacking the CD21 receptor, no persons are known to lack CD35.

"CD35 is a latecomer in evolution and in its current form, exists only in humans," says Fingeroth. "We know that it is often targeted in autoimmune diseases and was recently identified as a malaria receptor. Our new discovery may, therefore, reveal new avenues for the exploration of unexplained links between EBV, autoimmune diseases, malaria and cancer."

In addition to Fingeroth and Ogembo, study coauthors include BIDMC investigators Lakshmi Kannan, Ionita Ghiran, Anne Nicholson-Weller and George Tsokos; and University of Massachusetts Medical School investigator Robert Finberg.

This study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (R01A10635710) as well as support from the American Heart Association, the St. Baldrick's Foundation, and the Cancer Research Institute.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and currently ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit

Bonnie Prescott | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Atom-Sized Craters Make a Catalyst Much More Active
30.11.2015 | SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

nachricht Hydra Can Modify Its Genetic Program
30.11.2015 | Université de Genève (University of Geneva)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: How do Landslides control the weathering of rocks?

Chemical weathering in mountains depends on the process of erosion.

Chemical weathering of rocks over geological time scales is an important control on the stability of the climate. This weathering is, in turn, highly dependent...

Im Focus: How Cells in the Developing Ear ‘Practice’ Hearing

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular chain of events that enables the cells to make “sounds” on their own, essentially “practicing” their ability to process sounds in the world around them.

The researchers, who describe their experiments in the Dec. 3 edition of the journal Cell, show how hair cells in the inner ear can be activated in the absence...

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Urbanisation and migration from rural areas challenging agriculture in Eastern Europe

30.11.2015 | Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Making backup plans can be a self-fulfilling prophecy

01.12.2015 | Social Sciences

How do Landslides control the weathering of rocks?

01.12.2015 | Earth Sciences

Teamplay IT solution enables more efficient use of protocols

30.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

More VideoLinks >>>