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Cancer virus protein needed after all

Posted by tumicrobiology on April 3, 2006

March 31 (UPI)

A protein made by a cancer-causing virus that was thought to be unimportant is critically needed by the virus to initiate an infection, says a U.S. study.

Scientists at the Ohio State University Cancer Program and OSU College of Veterinary Medicine examined the human T lymphotropic virus type 1 — HTLV-1 — and a protein it makes called p13.

The protein is one of the virus' so-called accessory proteins, which earlier studies done in laboratory-grown cells suggested the virus could live without.

"This viral protein is also important to study because it travels to the mitochondria of infected cells," said Michael Lairmore, professor and chair of veterinary biosciences and a member of the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Our findings are the first to indicate that the HTLV-1 p13 protein plays an essential biological role during the early phase of virus infection in an animal model."

The findings are published in the Journal of Virology.

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