Scientists Uncover How EBV Hides

A new study has shown that the Epstein-Barr virus flies below the immune system’s radar by restricting the production of the protein EBNA1.

AsianScientist (May 14, 2014) – QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute scientists have worked out how the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) eludes our immune response.

Dr. Judy Tellam, a senior researcher in the Tumor Immunology group, led the international team which identified how the virus persists as a latent infection.

“We’ve always known that EBV maintains some of its proteins at such a low level that our immune system doesn’t kick in to destroy the virus,” Tellam said.

“Effectively, the virus flies below our immunity’s radar.

“What this study has found is exactly how that process works – how a particular viral protein known as EBNA1 maintains that careful balance by limiting its own synthesis levels. It means the virus remains alive, while eluding our immune cells.”

Epstein-Barr virus infects more than 90 percent of the world’s population and is linked to a number of cancers including Burkitt’s lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. There are currently no vaccines to prevent EBV and other herpes virus-associated cancers.

“But this work provides a new target for the development of potential therapies, by showing us we can tackle EBV from a new angle,” Tellam said.

This paper is the cover story of the current edition of Nature Chemical Biology.

The article can be found at: Murat et al. (2014) G-quadruplexes Regulate Epstein-Barr Virus–Encoded Nuclear Antigen 1 mRNA Translation.


Source: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist