pp 248-248 April 2003
pp 249-264 April 2003 Articles
The complement system is a potent innate immune mechanism consisting of cascades of proteins which are designed to fight against and annul intrusion of all the foreign pathogens. Although viruses are smaller in size and have relatively simple structure, they are not immune to complement attack. Thus, activation of the complement system can lead to neutralization of cell-free viruses, phagocytosis of C3b-coated viral particles, lysis of virus-infected cells, and generation of inflammatory and specific immune responses. However, to combat host responses and succeed as pathogens, viruses not only have developed/adopted mechanisms to control complement, but also have turned these interactions to their own advantage. Important examples include poxviruses, herpesviruses, retroviruses, paramyxoviruses and picornaviruses. In this review, we provide information on the various complement evasion strategies that viruses have developed to thwart the complement attack of the host. A special emphasis is given on the interactions between the viral proteins that are involved in molecular mimicry and the complement system.
pp 265-271 April 2003 Articles
Vaccinia virus complement control protein (VCP) was one of the first viral molecules demonstrated to have a role in blocking complement and hence in the evasion of host defense. Structurally it is very similar to the human C4b-BP and the other members of complement control protein. Functionally it is most similar to the CR1 protein. VCP blocks both major pathways of complement activation. The crystal structure of VCP was determined a little over a year ago and it is the only known structure of an intact and complete complement control protein. In addition to binding complement, VCP also binds to heparin. These two binding abilities can take place simultaneously and contribute to its many function and to its potential use in several inflammatory diseases, e.g. Alzheimer’s disease (AD), CNS injury, xenotransplantation, etc. making it a truly fascinating molecule and potential drug.
pp 273-285 April 2003 Articles
The poxvirus, myxoma virus, encodes within its genome at least eleven different proteins that compromise, skew, or disable the innate and adaptive responses of its hosts. In the laboratory rabbit,Oryctolagus cuniculus, these effects result in myxomatosis, a fatal condition characterized by skin lesions and systemic immunosuppression. Interestingly, while myxoma infection also causes skin lesions in its natural host and in natural populations ofO. cuniculus in Australia where this novel host and the virus have co-evolved, the condition of myxomatosis does not ensue and infection is not fatal. In this review I discuss the biochemical properties of the characterized immunomodulatory proteins of myxoma virus, and their pathogenic effects in laboratory rabbits. Disruption of any one myxoma immunomodulatory gene diminishes the severity of the infection without compromising infectivity. Thus, the characterized immunomodulatory genes appear not to be required for a productive infectionin vivo. The differences in the severity of their effects in laboratory-bred versus wildO. cuniculus suggest that the outcome of myxoma infection is a consequence of the interplay between the viral immunomodulatory gene products and the cells and molecules of the host immune system.
pp 287-304 April 2003 Articles
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an emerging virus of medical importance. A majority of HCV infections become chronic and lead to chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. HCV usually induces robust immune responses, but it frequently escapes the immune defense to establish persistent infection. The fact that HCV exists as an evolving quasispecies plays an important role in the selection of escape mutants. Furthermore, several viral proteins interfere with cellular functions, in particular, those involved in the immune response of the host. Several HCV proteins also modulate cell signalling through interaction with different effectors involved in cell proliferation and apoptosis, or in the interferon-signalling pathway. In addition, HCV infects immune cells such as B and T cells, and thus affects their normal functions. These various strategies used by HCV to counter the immune response of the host are reviewed here. A better understanding of these mechanisms would help design new therapeutic targets.
pp 305-310 April 2003 Articles
The hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of the E2 protein of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is highly heterogeneous in its primary sequence and is responsible for significant inter- and intra-individual variation of the infecting virus, which may represent an important pathogenetic mechanism leading to immune escape and persistent infection. A binding site for neutralizing antibodies (Ab) has also been allegedly identified in this region. Prospective studies of serological responses to synthetic oligopeptides derived from naturally-occurring HVR1 sequences showed promiscuous recognition of HVR1 variants in most patients via binding to C-terminal amino acid residues with conserved physicochemical properties. Monoclonal antibodies generated by immunization of mice with peptides derived from natural HVR1 sequences were shown to recognize several HVR1 variants in line with evidence gathered from studies using human sera. In addition, selected mAbs were able to bind HVR1 in the context of a complete soluble form of the E2 glycoprotein, indicating recognition of correctly folded sequences, and were shown to specifically capture circulating and recombinant HCV particles, suggesting that HVR1 is expressed on intact virus particles and therefore potentially able to interact with cellular receptor(s). These findings suggest that it is possible to induce a broadly reactive clonal immune response to multiple HCV variants and that this mechanism could be used in principle to induce protective immunity for a large repertoire of HCV variants.
pp 311-321 April 2003 Articles
Of all the hepatitis viruses, only the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) cause chronic hepatitis, which can progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. In this review, we discuss how these two biologically diverse viruses use common pathways to induce oxidative stress and activation of key transcription factors, known to be involved in inflammatory processes in cells. Activation of NF-κB and STAT-3 most likely contribute to the progression of viral infections to chronic hepatitis and liver oncogenesis associated with HBV and HCV infections. In this review, we focus on the mechanisms of action of HBx and HCV NS5A proteins in inducing intracellular events associated with the viral infections.
pp 323-335 April 2003 Articles
HIV-1 has at its disposal numerous proteins encoded by its genome which provide the required arsenal to establish and maintain infection in its host for a considerable number of years. One of the most important and enigmatic of these proteins is Nef. The Nef protein of HIV-1 plays a fundamental role in the virus life cycle. This small protein of approximately 27 kDa is required for maximal virus replication and disease progression. The mechanisms by which it is able to act as a positive factor during virus replication is an area of intense research and although some controversy surrounds Nef much has been gauged as to how it functions. Its ability to modulate the expression of key cellular receptors important for cell activation and control signal transduction elements and events by interacting with numerous cellular kinases and signalling molecules, including members of the Src family kinases, leading to an effect on host cell function is likely to explain at least in part its role during infection and represents a finely tuned mechanism where this protein assists HIV-1 to control its host.
pp 337-348 April 2003 Articles
The aetiology of cervical cancer has been primarily attributed to human papillomaviruses (HPVs). These are characterized by the persistent expression of the two oncogenes, E6 and E7. Experimental studies show thatE6 andE7 genes of the high risk HPVs deregulate key cell cycle controls. Recent work has uncovered new cellular partners for these proteins that throw light on many of the pathways and processes in which these viral proteins intervene. This review focuses on the regulation of host proteins by the viral oncoproteins and consequence of such interactions on cell survival, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis.
pp 349-358 April 2003 Articles
Host pathogen interaction results in a variety of responses, which include phagocytosis of the pathogen, release of cytokines, secretion of toxins, as well as production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Recent studies have shown that many pathogens exert control on the processes that regulate apoptosis in the host. The induction of apoptosis upon infection results from a complex interaction of parasite proteins with cellular host proteins. Abrogation of host cell apoptosis is often beneficial for the pathogen and results in a successful host invasion. However, in some cases, it has been shown that induction of apoptosis in the infected cells significantly imparts protection to the host from the pathogen. There is a strong correlation between apoptosis and the host protein translation machinery: the pathogen makes all possible efforts to modify this process so as to inhibit cell suicide and ensure that it can survive and, in some cases, establish latent infection. This review discusses the significance of various pathways/steps during virus-mediated modulation of host cell apoptosis.