Researchers have identified a critical receptor required for human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection. The protein, platelet-derived growth factor-a receptor (PDGFR-a ), may prove a useful target for new anti-viral therapies.
HCMV is a ubiquitous human herpesvirus that can cause life-threatening disease in the fetus and immunocompromised patients. In Nature, Charles Cobbs and colleagues show that HCMV requires PDGFR-a binding and activation for internalization, expression of essential viral genes, production of infectious virus, and activation of key downstream signaling.
If the receptor is knocked out or inactivated, HCMV cannot enter the cell and viral genes are not expressed. The team highlights two compounds - the anti-cancer drug Gleevec and the PDGFR-a -blocking antibody IMC-3G3 - that yield this effect, suggesting that these currently available pharmaceutical agents could prove useful in the treatment of HCMV infection.
Charles Cobbs (University of California San Francisco Medical Center, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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