Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene that suppresses herpesviruses discovered

Date:
February 13, 2013
Source:
University of North Carolina Health Care
Summary:
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and Epstein-Barr virus hide within the worldwide human population. While dormant in the vast majority of those infected, these active herpesviruses can develop into several forms of cancer. In an effort to understand and eventually develop treatments for these viruses, researchers at the University of North Carolina have identified a family of human genes known as Tousled-like kinases that play a key role in the suppression and activation of these viruses.

Cells infected with the KSHV virus fluoresce yellow. The KSHV virus remains dormant in more than 95 percent of infected patients.
Credit: UNC/Damania Lab

Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) hide within the worldwide human population. While dormant in the vast majority of those infected, these active herpesviruses can develop into several forms of cancer. In an effort to understand and eventually develop treatments for these viruses, researchers at the University of North Carolina have identified a family of human genes known as Tousled-like kinases (TLKs) that play a key role in the suppression and activation of these viruses.

Related Articles


In a paper published by Cell Host and Microbe on Feb. 13, a research team led by Blossom Damania, PhD, of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, found that suppressing the TLK enzyme causes the activation of the lytic cycle of both EBV and KSHV. During this active phase, these viruses begin to spread and replicate, and become vulnerable to anti-viral treatments.

"When TLK is present, these viruses stay latent, but when it is absent, these viruses can replicate" said Dr. Damania.

Patrick Dillon, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Damania's lab, led the study. Other co-authors included UNC Lineberger members Drs. Dirk Dittmer, Nancy Raab-Traub and Gary Johnson.

KSHV and EBV are blood-borne viruses that remain dormant in more than 95 percent of those infected, making treatment of these viruses difficult. Both viruses are associated with a number of different lymphomas, sarcomas, and carcinomas, and many patients with suppressed immune systems are at risk for these virus-associated cancers.

"The dormant state of these viruses is what makes it so hard to treat these infections and the cancers associated with these infections," said Dr. Damania.

Researchers have known that stimuli such as stress can activate the virus from dormancy, but they do not understand the molecular basis of the viral activation cycle. With the discovery of the link between these viruses and TLKs, Dr. Damania said that researchers can begin to look for the molecular actions triggered by events like stress, and how they lead to the suppression of the TLK enzymes.

"What exactly is stress at a molecular level? We don't really understand it fully," said Dr. Damania.

With the discovery that TLKs suppresses these viruses, Dr. Damania said that the proteins can now be investigated as a possible drug target for these virus-associated cancers. In its normal function in the cell, TLKs play a role in the maintenance of the genome, repairing DNA and the assembly of the chromatin, but there is a lot more to learn about the function of the TLKs, said Dr. Damania. One avenue of her lab's future research will investigate how TLKs function in absence of the virus.

"If we prevent this protein from functioning, and we combine this with a drug that inhibits viral replication, then we could have a target to cure the cell of the virus. If the virus isn't there, the viral-associated cancers aren't present," said Dr. Damania.

This research was supported by NIH grants CA096500, CA163217, and CA019014, and the UNC Lineberger training grant NIH T32CA009156. Dr. Damania is a Leukemia & Lymphoma Foundation Scholar and a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in Infectious Disease.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina Health Care. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. PatrickJ. Dillon, SeanM. Gregory, Kristen Tamburro, MarciaK. Sanders, GaryL. Johnson, Nancy Raab-Traub, DirkP. Dittmer, Blossom Damania. Tousled-like Kinases Modulate Reactivation of Gammaherpesviruses from Latency. Cell Host & Microbe, 2013; 13 (2): 204 DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2012.12.005

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina Health Care. "Gene that suppresses herpesviruses discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213132321.htm>.
University of North Carolina Health Care. (2013, February 13). Gene that suppresses herpesviruses discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213132321.htm
University of North Carolina Health Care. "Gene that suppresses herpesviruses discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213132321.htm (accessed November 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Buzz60 (Nov. 20, 2014) Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer teamed up with entomologist Aaron Pomerantz and others to investigate a predatory glow worm found in the Amazon. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Huge Snow Covers Buffalo Streets

Raw: Huge Snow Covers Buffalo Streets

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) A new blast of lake-effect snow roared through western New York with thunder and lightning on Thursday, raising to nearly 6 feet the three-day total in parts of the Buffalo area. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Report Warns of Global Chocolate Shortage

Report Warns of Global Chocolate Shortage

Buzz60 (Nov. 20, 2014) A new report warns the world could face a 2.2-billion pound chocolate shortage within the next five years. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pygmy Marmoset Getting a Toothbrush Massage Is the Cutest

Pygmy Marmoset Getting a Toothbrush Massage Is the Cutest

Buzz60 (Nov. 19, 2014) This rescued pygmy marmoset named Ninita is obsessed with her toothbrush. It's cuteness overload, and Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the amazing video. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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