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Cancer virus protein needed for successful infection

COLUMBUS , Ohio New research shows that a protein made by a cancer-causing virus that was thought to be unimportant for its replication is in fact critically needed by the virus to initiate an infection and to reproduce.

The study examined the human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and a protein it makes called p13. The protein is one of the virus' so-called accessory proteins, proteins that earlier studies done in laboratory-grown cells suggested that the virus could live without.

But this new study done using an animal model that the virus can infect suggests that HTLV-1 needs the p13 protein to successfully infect the body and reproduce.

The research, published in the April 1 issue of the Journal of Virology, was led by scientists with The Ohio State University Cancer Program and OSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

"It is important to understand the function of these accessory molecules so we know if they should be incorporated into vaccines or targeted by new drugs as a way to prevent infection," says principal investigator Michael Lairmore, professor and chair of veterinary biosciences and a member of the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"This viral protein is also important to study because it travels to the mitochondria of infected cells." Mitochondria produce the cell's energy supply and store enzymes that carry out the process of natural cell death, or apoptosis.

"These findings should help us begin to learn whether this viral protein influences cell survival, perhaps by extending the life of the cell," Lairmore says.

HTLV-1 infects an estimated 15 to 20 million people worldwide. About 5 percent of those infected develop adult T cell leukemia or lymphoma (ATLL), an aggressive disease characterized by a long latent period and the proliferation of T lymphocytes. The virus is spread by sexual activity, infected blood and breast milk.

For this study, Lairmore and a group of collabora
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University
31-Mar-2006


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