Researchers make key discovery about human cancer virus protein

May 15, 2018, University of Minnesota
Credit: University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota researchers in the dentistry school-based Institute for Molecular Virology (IMV) have made a key discovery that could have important implications for developing a strategy to stop the spread of a highly infectious virus currently spreading among remote areas of central Australia. Called human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), infection rates are reportedly exceeding 40 percent among adults in those communities. HTLV-1, the first human cancer virus discovered, can cause leukemia and lymphoma.

Louis Mansky, Ph.D., director of the IMV and professor in the School of Dentistry and his team have been investigating how HTLV-1 produces that can spread to other cells in the body. In their research published in the Journal of Virology, researchers created mutations in HTLV-1's main structural protein (called Gag) and investigated how these mutants affected the production of HTLV-1 particles. The spread of HTLV-1 from cell to cell requires , which is critical for establishment of infection in the body.

Through their research, Mansky and his team discovered that a key region in the HTLV-1 Gag protein had critical required to produce .

"By creating these mutants, we found important new insights regarding how the structure of the Gag protein is critically important in making new particles," said Mansky, the lead author of the study and Masonic Cancer Center member.

HTLV-1 is transmitted through sexual contact, blood transfusion and from mother to child by breastfeeding. Along with being a carcinogen, the virus can lead to other serious health conditions and cause a chronic progressive disease of the spinal cord. In this study, Mansky's team also found the key virus protein used to produce a HTLV-1 virus particle is assembled in a manner distinct to that of related viruses like HIV.

"HTLV-1 is poorly understood and this is an important step to better understanding how it infects people and spreads," said Mansky. "Further research is needed to understand the molecular nature of how HTLV-1 virus particles are produced from infected host . In doing so, we will be able to better apply this knowledge toward creating strategies to prevent HTLV-1's spread."

Explore further: Mechanisms of persistent infection for the human T-cell leukemia virus

More information: Jessica L. Martin et al. Critical Role of the HTLV-1 Capsid N-Terminal Domain for Gag-Gag Interactions and Virus Particle Assembly, Journal of Virology (2018). DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00333-18

Related Stories

Mechanisms of persistent infection for the human T-cell leukemia virus

June 3, 2016
Joint research between scientists from Kumamoto University, Japan and Imperial College London, UK has revealed the mechanisms of persistent latent infection of the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). This is an important ...

No two kinds of retroviruses look—or act—the same

July 5, 2016
In the most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers in the Institute for Molecular Virology and School of Dentistry at the University of Minnesota report that most types of retroviruses have distinct, non-identical virus ...

Leukemia-causing retrovirus HTLV-1 vaccine a future possibility

April 13, 2018
A study appearing in the in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences gives new clues into how cancers like leukemia form from the retrovirus HTLV-1, as well as insights into the possible creation of a vaccine.

Discovery of new strains of the HTLV-4 virus in hunters bitten by gorillas in Gabon

July 13, 2016
Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the CNRS have identified two new strains of the HTLV-4 virus in two hunters who were bitten by gorillas in Gabon. These findings, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, ...

Molecular culprit behind virus-mediated chronic inflammation and cancers identified

April 26, 2018
Within cells infected by Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV), the human protein CADM1 interacts with viral proteins to promote chronic inflammation, which plays a major role in the development of cancers caused by KSHV. Richard ...

Mogamulizumab cuts infected cells in HTLV-1 myelopathy

February 8, 2018
(HealthDay)—For patients with human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-associated myelopathy-tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM-TSP), treatment with the humanized anti-CCR4 monoclonal antibody that targets infected cells, ...

Recommended for you

New strategy to cure chronic hepatitis B infection

May 18, 2018
Scientists from Karolinska Institutet and Hannover Medical School have published two studies that provide insights into how the immune system responds and helps to clear a hepatitis B infection after treatment interruption. ...

Blood type affects severity of diarrhea caused by E. coli

May 17, 2018
A new study shows that a kind of E. coli most associated with "travelers' diarrhea" and children in underdeveloped areas of the world causes more severe disease in people with blood type A.

Resistance to antifungal drugs could lead to disease and global food shortages

May 17, 2018
Growing levels of resistance to antifungal treatments could lead to increased disease outbreaks and affect food security around the world.

Pig immunology comes of age: Killer T cell responses to influenza

May 17, 2018
Researchers from The Pirbright Institute, University of Bristol, Cardiff University and University of Oxford have generated tools that allow scientists to understand a vital area of the pig immune system which was previously ...

How intestinal worms hinder tuberculosis vaccination

May 17, 2018
New research in mice suggests that chronic infection with intestinal worms indirectly reduces the number of cells in lymph nodes near the skin, inhibiting the immune system's response to the Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) ...

Mosquito spit may affect your immune system for days

May 17, 2018
Mosquito saliva alone—even in the absence of any pathogens—contains hundreds of proteins. Now, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have discovered that the interaction of these proteins with the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.