Research in our lab is focused on human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), which
infects more than 70% of the general population but usually causes serious
disease only in immune compromised individuals like transplant recipients, AIDS
patients, and neonates. HCMV is a member of the herpes
virus family, a group of large DNA viruses that have the ability to establish
lifelong infections in their hosts. In a healthy host, the immune response is
usually sufficient to prevent disease, but not strong enough to completely
eliminate the virus.
Current projects are
centered around the numerous gene products HCMV encodes to modulate the host
immune system. One of these gene products is a homolog of cellular
interleukin-10, a potent regulator of immune responses. Despite having only 27%
sequence identity to the human IL-10, cmvIL-10
has potent immune suppressive properties. Our most recent studies are
investigating whether cmvIL-10 might stimulate tumor progression through immune
suppression and stimulation of genes that promote invasion and metastasis.
Another active area of
research in our lab is the study of viral chemokine receptors, and in
particular the orphan receptor US27.
Although no cellular ligands for US27 have been identified, we believe that
US27 may alter migration of immune cells through internalization of cellular
chemokine receptors. The results of these studies are expected to enhance our
understanding of HCMV pathogenesis and potentially aid in the development of
new treatment strategies for HCMV infection.
Juliet V. Spencer, Robin K. Bishop, Cendy Valle Oseguera, Carolyn Tu
Herpesvirus Research Laboratory (HeRL)
University of San Francisco (USF)