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Scientists discover how smallpox may derail human immune system
Date:5/11/2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. University of Florida researchers have learned more about how smallpox conducts its deadly business discoveries that may reveal as much about the human immune system as they do about one of the world's most feared pathogens.

In findings to be published this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists describe how they looked at all of the proteins produced by the smallpox virus in concert with human proteins, and discovered one particular interaction that disables one of the body's first responders to injury inflammation.

"This virus that has killed more humans than any other contains secrets about how the human immune system works," said Grant McFadden, Ph.D., a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at the College of Medicine and a member of the UF Genetics Institute. "I'm always amazed at how sophisticated these pathogens are, and every time we look, they have something new to teach us about the human immune system."

With researchers from the University of Alberta, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a private company called Myriad Genetics, UF researchers for the first time systematically screened the smallpox proteome the entire complement of new proteins produced by the virus during interactions with proteins from human DNA.

These protein-on-protein interactions resulted in a particularly devastating pairing between a viral protein called G1R and a human protein called human nuclear factor kappa-B1, which is believed to play a role in the growth and survival of both healthy cells and cancer cells by activating genes involved in immune responses and inflammation.

"One of the strategies of the virus is to inhibit inflammation pathways, and this interaction is an inhibitor of human inflammation such that we have never seen before," McFadden said. "This helps explain some of the mechanisms that contribute
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Contact: John Pastor
jdpastor@ufl.edu
352-273-5815
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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