FEB 06, 2016 09:35 AM PST

How the Herpes Virus Evades the Immune System

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Herpes simplex 1 virus, the microscopic pathogen notoriously remembered for its production of painful and unappealing cold sores, has long evaded complete treatment. "Once this virus enters the body, it never leaves,” said biologist Jue Chen, PhD, from The Rockefeller University, leader of a new study investigating this pesky invader. Using a technique known as cryo-electron microscopy in the study recently published in Nature, Chen and her team observed how herpes avoids the primary recognition system of the immune system to thrive ubiquitously in the human body.
 


A protein called TAP for “the transporter associated with antigen processing” works intracellularly to bring antigenic particles from the cytosol to the endoplasmic reticulum (Physiology). From the endoplasmic reticulum, compounds called major histocompatibility complex (MHC) I molecules take the antigens for displaying on the cell surface, notifying lymphocytes called cytotoxic T cells of a viral presence within the cell. The images Chen and her team obtained from their study using cryo-electron microscopy showed herpes inhibiting TAP activity, subsequently preventing the host cell from warning the immune system of the herpes presence.
 
First, herpes prevents TAP from binding to viral particles for transport. Then, herpes makes the transporter “stuck in this conformation.”
 
"We haven't been able to figure out how to block these transporters ourselves," Chen said, "so we are learning how it's done from viruses, which we hope will teach us some strategies for inhibition."
 
Initially it may seem that a treatment for herpes is as simple as manipulating TAP to counter or avoid the effect from herpes. However, TAP is universally present in many cells that need it for defense against viruses other than herpes, so the treatment would have to be extremely specific for TAP in cells with herpes virus only. However, the discoveries made in this new study provide insight into treating other viral diseases.  
 

Source: The Rockefeller University
 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 23, 2018
Immunology
JUL 23, 2018
Obesity Associated Inflammation Leads to Chronic Health Issues
Inflammation caused by harmful oxidized lipids increases in individuals with obesity and may contribute to chronic disease development....
AUG 07, 2018
Immunology
AUG 07, 2018
Age, Sex, Genetics and the Immune Response
Your age, sex, and genetics all play a role in the intensity of your humoral immune response....
AUG 27, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
AUG 27, 2018
Stopping Cell Suicide
Chronic inflammation has been linked to many diseases and can trigger cell death....
AUG 29, 2018
Immunology
AUG 29, 2018
Artificial Intelligence Predicts Response to Immunotherapy
Artificial intelligence can process CT scan images to determine biological and clinical information that can predict immunotherapy efficacy thanks to machine learning....
OCT 22, 2018
Immunology
OCT 22, 2018
Barcoding for Cancer Immunity Genes
Scientists develop a novel technology that allows for protein barcoding to reveal gene function...
OCT 30, 2018
Drug Discovery
OCT 30, 2018
Re-sensitizing Drug-resistant Human Tumor Cells
Understanding how cancer cells avoid death despite their DNA being damaged will create new strategies to enhance cancer cell killing through chemotherapy t...
Loading Comments...