Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Viral evasion gene reveals new targets for eliminating chronic infections

Date:
January 11, 2011
Source:
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Summary:
Researchers in Australia have discovered how a key viral gene helps viruses evade early detection by the immune system. Their finding is providing new insights into how viruses are able to establish chronic infections, leading scientists to reevaluate their approaches to viral vaccine development.

Dr. Gabrielle Belz's team has discovered how a key viral gene helps viruses evade early detection by the immune system.
Credit: Image courtesy of Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have discovered how a key viral gene helps viruses evade early detection by the immune system. Their finding is providing new insights into how viruses are able to establish chronic infections, leading scientists to reevaluate their approaches to viral vaccine development.

Researchers from the institute's Immunology division together with collaborators at the University of Cambridge (UK) have been studying how the immune system responds to viruses that cause persistent or chronic infections and why the immune system is unable to eliminate these infections.

Dr Gabrielle Belz, Dr Adele Mount and colleagues are particularly interested in immune system cells called dendritic cells and their interaction with viruses that cause chronic infections.

"Chronic infections are one of the greatest health challenges for the Western world, but currently we have very few ways of dealing with them," Dr Belz said. "They require ongoing medical care and support due to an inability to treat infection effectively.

"We are trying to understand how chronic infections sneak past the usually highly effective immune armoury and covertly establish disease. If we can stop these infections establishing then we can eliminate, or substantially reduce, that societal burden."

Dendritic cells, which are studied by Dr Belz, Dr Mount and colleagues, act as 'sentinels' of the immune system; they are critical for the early detection of invading bacteria and viruses and are one of the first cells to trigger the immune response. "Dendritic cells are called 'antigen presenting cells'; they digest infectious agents into small fragments and shuttle these fragments to the outside of the cell where they are displayed to virus-specific killer T cells, helping to launch a full-blown immune response," Dr Belz said.

The team has been investigating a virus called gamma herpesvirus-68, which establishes chronic infections in mice and provides a model of the workings of the human gamma herpesvirus Epstein-Barr Virus, commonly known to cause infectious mononucleosis, or 'kissing disease'. Their results, which have been published in the Journal of Immunology, show that a viral gene called K3 rapidly disables the antigen-processing machinery normally used by dendritic cells to alert the immune system to infections.

"This gene quickly helps the virus to hide from the immune system by subverting normal antigen presentation to T cells, which have the critical task of destroying virally-infected cells," Dr Belz said. "The virus carries out a top-secret operation. It shuts down the normal mechanisms that allow the immune system to recognise an infection and then boards the antigen-presenting cells which ferry the virus through the blood and tissues, allowing it to spread throughout the body and establish system infection."

Dr Belz said the study could change conventional views on the best way to generate an immune response to combat chronic infections.

"Our research shows that viral evasion of the immune system in chronic infections happens incredibly early," Dr Belz said. "Dendritic cells are compromised long before they have the chance to interact with T cells for the next phase of the immune response, so the T cells are never really activated properly. If we want to make an effective vaccine, we need to look at these early escape points used by the virus as the first target for trying to generate a more efficient immune response that will contain the virus and prevent it establishing a systemic infection."

This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Sylvia & Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. M. Mount, F. Masson, F. Kupresanin, C. M. Smith, J. S. May, N. van Rooijen, P. G. Stevenson, G. T. Belz. Interference with Dendritic Cell Populations Limits Early Antigen Presentation in Chronic -Herpesvirus-68 Infection. The Journal of Immunology, 2010; 185 (6): 3669 DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001079

Cite This Page:

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Viral evasion gene reveals new targets for eliminating chronic infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110105091142.htm>.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. (2011, January 11). Viral evasion gene reveals new targets for eliminating chronic infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110105091142.htm
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. "Viral evasion gene reveals new targets for eliminating chronic infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110105091142.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins