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July 25, 2005

'Achilles' heel' of the herpes virus possibly found

Topics: Medicine

Apparently, the expression of a previously uncharacterized human hfl-B5 cDNA confers susceptibility for herpes simplex virus (HSV) to porcine cells and fulfills criteria as an HSV entry receptor:

In a presentation Sunday at the International Congress of Virology and in two new papers in the Journal of Virology, U-M researchers reported on the discovery of a receptor that appears to function as one "lock" that Herpes Simplex Virus opens to allow it to enter human cells. They've also found the gene that controls the production of that receptor, deciphered some aspects of the receptor's structure, and developed a pig-cell system that could be used to test new anti-herpes drugs.

The findings may help explain why the oral and genital herpes virus has such a successful track record: The receptor, dubbed B5, is made by most cells for another purpose not yet understood. HSV appears to have evolved a way to latch onto it, and fool the cell into letting the virus in. And since most cells express the gene for the B5 receptor, this may be a reason HSV can get into most kinds of cells.

Related reading:
The C terminus of the B5 receptor for herpes simplex virus contains a functional region important for infection.

A new class of receptor for herpes simplex virus has heptad repeat motifs that are common to membrane fusion proteins.

Posted by Hyscience at July 25, 2005 12:09 AM

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