Inhibition of IL-2 gene expression by HHV-6 U54

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Inhibition of IL-2 gene expression by HHV-6 U54

Dr. Louis Flamand’s laboratory in Quebec, Canada, has published an article with evidence that points toward a detailed mechanism for inhibition of IL-2 gene expression by HHV-6. This new study represents the closing chapter on a story that started twenty years ago when Flamand et al reported on the capacity of HHV-6A to inhibit  interleukin-2 (IL-2) synthesis in CD4+ lymphocytes (the primary cellular targets for HHV-6). At that time, it was postulated that viral structural components could be responsible for this effect.

Mathieu Iampietro, a graduate student in Dr. Flamand’s laboratory, set out to identify this theorized key component, and after screening several structural candidate proteins, the U54 tegument protein of HHV-6B was identified as playing an important role in preventing IL-2 gene expression.  The precise mechanism by which U54 mediates its effect is described in detail within the article, published in the latest edition of the Journal of Virology.

IL-2 is a key immune growth factor, essential for adequate T lymphocyte proliferation and expansion. The findings point out to a role for the U54 tegument protein in HHV-6 immune evasion.

For more information, read the full paper here.