Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A new piece in the puzzle of how herpesviruses outwit the immune system

14.03.2018

HZI researchers have uncovered how a cancer-causing virus specifically targets a protein of its host to successfully establish infection

Humans are constantly exposed to pathogens like bacteria and viruses. In most cases, the immune system successfully detects and eliminates these invaders. However, the herpesvirus family has adapted brilliantly to the immune system: its members manage to stay in the host’s body for life after infection.


Illustration of virus particles.

© Pixabay

A research team at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) recently discovered that a protein of the carcinogenic Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) commandeers an immune system component for its own benefit. This enables the virus to successfully infect its host. The researchers have published their results in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Pathogens.

During his or her lifetime, every human being is infected with at least one of the nine human herpesviruses. In most cases, the immune system of healthy people keeps the infection under control and severe illness only rarely develops. Herpesviruses have adapted excellently to their host – they manipulate the immune system in many different ways and manage to remain in the host for life. If the immune system is weakened, herpesviruses can replicate and cause serious complications, including cancer.

Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a member of the human herpesvirus family. KSHV can cause three different forms of cancer: Kaposi’s sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma, and multicentric Castleman’s disease, affecting blood vessels, white blood cells, and lymph nodes, respectively. Kaposi’s sarcoma occurs frequently in AIDS patients whose immune systems are severely weakened by infection with human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1).

So far, no vaccine against KSHV exists. The mechanisms used by this virus to manipulate its host and that lead to the development of cancer are also not fully understood. “To be able to successfully treat infections with this herpesvirus, we need to understand in detail how it controls our immune system”, says Prof Melanie Brinkmann, who leads the research group “Viral Immune Modulation” at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany and is a professor at the Hannover Medical School (MHH).

To gain insight into how KSHV escapes immune control, the Brinkmann research group has investigated a poorly understood protein of this virus, the protein ORF20. With mass spectrometric analysis, the researchers found that ORF20 forms a complex with a host protein of the innate immune defence system. “Normally, this host protein, known as OASL, is used to defend the host and has an antiviral function,” says Dr Kendra Bussey, a scientist in Brinkmann’s team and lead author of the study.

“However, we have now shown for the first time that OASL has a proviral function during KSHV infection – the presence of OASL favours progression of the infection, rather than stopping it.” Using genetically modified viruses, the scientists were able to show that OASL only has a proviral effect if the viral protein ORF20 is present. “This shows that KSHV can skillfully manipulate the host for its own benefit, beating the host with its own weapon, so to speak”, says Bussey.

Melanie Brinkmann and her team have carried out this research within the framework of a collaborative research centre (CRC900) funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). In the future, in collaboration with researchers from the HZI and the MHH, they hope to gain further understanding regarding the cellular immune system control levers manipulated by KSHV to circumvent defences of the immune system. “This will provide us with new insights into the interaction between the virus and its host, and hopefully enable us to understand how this virus contributes to the development of cancer by manipulating the immune response”, says Brinkmann.

Original publication:
Kendra A. Bussey, Ulrike Lau, Sophie Schumann, Antonio Gallo, Lisa Osbelt, Markus Stempel, Christine Arnold, Josef Wissing, Hans Henrik Gad, Rune Hartmann, Wolfram Brune, Lothar Jänsch, Adrian Whitehouse, Melanie M. Brinkmann: The interferon-stimulated gene product oligoadenylate synthetase-like protein enhances replication of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and interacts with the KSHV ORF20 protein. PLOS Pathogens, 2018, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006937

The press release and a picture are also available on our website: https://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/en/news_events/news/view/article/complete/a_new_pie...

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research:
Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany, are engaged in the study of different mechanisms of infection and of the body’s response to infection. Helping to improve the scientific community’s understanding of a given bacterium’s or virus’ pathogenicity is key to developing effective new treatments and vaccines. The HZI is a member of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF). http://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/en

Contact:
Susanne Thiele, Press Officer
susanne.thiele@helmholtz-hzi.de
Dr Andreas Fischer, Editor
andreas.fischer@helmholtz-hzi.de

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research
Press and Communications
Inhoffenstr. 7
D-38124 Braunschweig
Germany

Phone: +49 531 6181-1404

Susanne Thiele | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Further information:
https://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/en/news_events/news/view/article/complete/a_new_piece_in_the_puzzle_of_how_herpesviruses_outwit_the_immune_system/

Further reports about: HZI Infektionsforschung KSHV herpesviruses immune system sarcoma

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The Secret of the Rock Drawings
24.05.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Chemical juggling with three particles
24.05.2019 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

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 studies increase confidence in NASA's measure of Earth's temperature

A new assessment of NASA's record of global temperatures revealed that the agency's estimate of Earth's long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures.

The most complete assessment ever of statistical uncertainty within the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) data product shows that the annual values...

Im Focus: The geometry of an electron determined for the first time

Physicists at the University of Basel are able to show for the first time how a single electron looks in an artificial atom. A newly developed method enables them to show the probability of an electron being present in a space. This allows improved control of electron spins, which could serve as the smallest information unit in a future quantum computer. The experiments were published in Physical Review Letters and the related theory in Physical Review B.

The spin of an electron is a promising candidate for use as the smallest information unit (qubit) of a quantum computer. Controlling and switching this spin or...

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

On Mars, sands shift to a different drum

24.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Piedmont Atlanta first in Georgia to offer new minimally invasive treatment for emphysema

24.05.2019 | Medical Engineering

Chemical juggling with three particles

24.05.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>