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Achilles heel of the herpes virus possibly found

nism was tricky and near impossible until Fuller's team discovered a type of pig kidney cell that isn't vulnerable to infection by human herpes virus. They searched the genome library to find genes essential to HSV infection, isolated the B5-coding sequence, and figured out how to get pig cells to express the human B5 protein to allow the pig cells to be infected with human herpes virus.

For these studies, Fuller credits the persistence of research team members in working with the genomic library and culture of human and pig cells, especially U-M doctorate graduate Aleida Perez and postdoctoral fellows Qingxue Li and Pilar Perez-Romero. Perez-Romero is first author of one of the two new papers, and a co-author on the other.

The two new papers show that the B5 receptor has important features that could explain why it is important to HSV's ability to fuse with the fluid membrane that encloses every human cell. The researchers were able to show that by placing only the DNA sequence that encodes B5 into HSV-resistant pig cells, they could make the pig cells susceptible to HSV. They were also able to block viral infection of both human cells and susceptible pig cells by adding to cell cultures a synthetic peptide made to mimic the structure of a smaller region of the B5 receptor. This peptide looks like a functional region of B5 and apparently interferes with virus engaging of the cell receptor.

The papers detail how the team isolated and characterized the gene that encodes B5, called hfl-B5, and used the DNA sequence to find out more about the protein structure of the B5 receptor. In the presentation at the International Congress for Virology, Fuller will describe recent findings that further confirm B5's importance in HSV infection.

The virology team reports that the B5 molecule appears to form a shape called a coiled coil. This intricately wound structure, they believe, may be similar to the structure of some fusion proteins of viruses
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Source:University of Michigan Health System


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