Infectious agents, including viruses, are associated with up to 20% of human cancers. The Blackbourn laboratory studies two such viruses: Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV or MCPyV).
Our major interest is in how viruses cause disease and modulate the immune response. KSHV provides a model for most of our studies, but the impact of our work could extend to other viruses or host/pathogen interactions. Our main research topics in this context are: (i) how KSHV interacts with the DNA damage response. (ii) How KSHV modulates the type I interferon (alpha & beta) response. (iii) How KSHV deregulates antigen-specifc T cell responses. (iii) What are the consequences of KSHV infection on endothelial cell biology, including cell-cell interactions and regulating leukocyte recruitment.
For MCV, our interests lie in understanding the tumour microenvironment and how it contributes to the pathogenesis of Merkel cell carcinoma.
Prof Blackbourn collaborates with colleagues throughout the world, including:
Dr Roger Grand, University of Birmingham
Dr Andrew Hislop, University of Birmingham
Professor Christian Munz, University of Zurich
Dr Mohamed Mutocheluh, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana
Dr Neil Steven, University of Birmingham
Professor Rolf Renne, University of Florida
Objective: Vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D˂25nmol/L) is extremely common in western-dwelling South Asians but evidence regarding vitamin D supplement usage in this group is very limited. This work identifies demographic, dietary and lifestyle predictors associated with vitamin D supplement use.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis of baseline vitamin D supplement use data.
Setting: UK Biobank cohort.
Subjects: In total, n 8024 South Asians (Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani), aged 40-69 years.
Results: Twenty-three % of men and 39% of women (P˂0.001) [22% of Bangladeshis, 32% of Indians, 25% of Pakistanis (P˂0.001)] took a vitamin D containing supplement. Median vitamin D intakes from diet were low at 1.0-3.0 micrograms per day, being highest in Bangladeshis and lowest in Indians (P˂0.001). Logistic regression modelling showed that females had a higher odds of vitamin D supplement use than males (odds ratio (OR) = 2.02; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.79 to 2.28). A lower supplement usage was seen in younger persons (40-60 years) (OR=0.75; 95% CI 0.65 to 0.86 reference= ˃60 years), and those living outside of Greater London (OR=0.53 to 0.77), with borderline trends for a lower body mass index, higher oily fish intake and higher household income associated with increased odds of vitamin D supplement use.
Conclusions: Vitamin D supplements were not used by most South Asians and intakes from diet alone are likely to be insufficient to maintain adequate vitamin D status. Public health strategies are now urgently required to promote the use of vitamin D supplements in these specific UK South Asian sub-groups.
Cell motility and migration is a complex, multi-step, and multi-component process, intrinsic to progression and metastasis. Motility is dependent on the activity of integrin receptors and Rho-family GTPases resulting in the remodelling of the actin cytoskeleton and formation of various motile actin-based protrusions. Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive skin cancer with a high likelihood of recurrence and metastasis. Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) is associated with the majority of MCC cases, and MCPyV-induced tumourigenesis largely depends on the expression of the small tumour antigen (ST). Since the discovery of MCPyV, a number of mechanisms have been suggested to account for replication and tumourigenesis, but to date, little is known about potential links between MCPyV T antigen expression and the metastatic nature of MCC. Previously, we have described the action of MCPyV ST on the microtubule network and how this impacts on cell motility and migration. Here we demonstrate that MCPyV ST affects the actin cytoskeleton, to promote the formation of filopodia, through a mechanism involving the catalytic subunit of protein phosphatase 4 (PP4C). We also show that MCPyV ST-induced cell motility is dependent upon the activity of Rho-family GTPases Cdc42 and RhoA. In addition, our results indicate that the MCPyV ST-PP4C interaction results in the dephosphorylation of β1 integrin, likely driving the cell motility pathway. These findings describe a novel mechanism by which a tumour virus induces cell motility, which may ultimately lead to cancer metastasis and provides opportunities and strategies for targeted interventions for disseminated MCC.
The human tumor viruses Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) establish persistent infections in B cells. KSHV is linked to primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), and 90% of PELs also contain EBV. Studies on persistent KSHV infection in vivo and the role of EBV co-infection in PEL development have been hampered by the absence of small animal models. We developed mice reconstituted with human immune system components as a model for KSHV infection and find that EBV/KSHV dual infection enhanced KSHV persistence and tumorigenesis. Dual-infected cells displayed a plasma cell-like gene expression pattern similar to PELs. KSHV persisted in EBV-transformed B cells and was associated with lytic EBV gene expression, resulting in increased tumor formation. Evidence of elevated lytic EBV replication was also found in EBV/KSHV dually infected lymphoproliferative disorders in humans. Our data suggest that KSHV augments EBV-associated tumorigenesis via stimulation of lytic EBV replication.
Background Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) contamination of food is very high in most sub-Saharan African countries. AFB1 is known to cause hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by inducing mutation in the tumour suppressor gene TP53. The number of new HCC cases is high in West Africa with an accompanying high mortality. The type I interferon (IFN) pathway of the innate immune system limits viral infections and exerts its anti-cancer property by up-regulating tumour suppressor activities and pro-apoptotic pathways. Indeed, IFN-α is reported to show significant protective effects against hepatic fibrogenesis and carcinogenesis. However, the mechanism behind AFB1 deregulation of the type I interferon (IFN) signalling pathway, with consequent HCC is largely unknown. This current study seeks to test the hypothesis that AFB1 inhibits the type I IFN response by directly interfering with key signalling proteins and thus increase the risk of HCC in humans.
Methods We evaluated the effects of AFB1 on the type I IFN signalling pathway using IFN stimulated response element (ISRE)-based luciferase reporter gene assay. In addition, the effects of AFB1 on the transcript levels of JAK1, STAT1 and OAS3 were assessed by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) and confirmed by immunoblot assay.
Results Our results indicated that AFB1 inhibited the type I IFN signalling pathway in human hepatoma cell line HepG2 cells by suppressing the transcript levels of JAK1, STAT1 and OAS3. AFB1 also decreased the accumulation of STAT1 protein.
Conclusion The inhibition of the type I IFN anti-cancer response pathway by AFB1 suggest a novel mechanism by which AFB1 may induce hepatocellular carcinoma in humans.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is an oncogenic virus, the etiological agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and primary effusion lymphoma (PEL). One of the key viral proteins that contributes to tumorigenesis is vFLIP, a viral homolog of the FLICE inhibitory protein. This KSHV protein interacts with the NFκB pathway to trigger the expression of antiapoptotic and proinflammatory genes and ultimately leads to tumor formation. The expression of vFLIP is regulated at the translational level by an internal ribosomal entry site (IRES) element. However, the precise mechanism by which ribosomes are recruited internally and the exact location of the IRES has remained elusive. Here we show that a 252-nt fragment directly upstream of vFLIP, within a coding region, directs translation. We have established its RNA structure and demonstrate that IRES activity requires the presence of eIF4A and an intact eIF4G. Furthermore, and unusually for an IRES, eIF4E is part of the complex assembled onto the vFLIP IRES to direct translation. These molecular interactions define a new paradigm for IRES-mediated translation.
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Page Created: Thursday 11 April 2013 14:18:30 by as0038
Last Modified: Tuesday 12 December 2017 13:19:39 by kj0008
Expiry Date: Friday 11 July 2014 14:01:50
Assembly date: Fri Dec 14 00:27:17 GMT 2018
Content ID: 100985