Ganglioside GT1b is a putative host cell receptor for the Merkel cell polyomavirus.

Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 347 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
Journal of Virology (Impact Factor: 4.65). 08/2009; 83(19):10275-9. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00949-09
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) was identified recently in human Merkel cell carcinomas, an aggressive neuroendocrine skin cancer. Here, we identify a putative host cell receptor for MCPyV. We found that recombinant MCPyV VP1 pentameric capsomeres both hemagglutinated sheep red blood cells and interacted with ganglioside GT1b in a sucrose gradient flotation assay. Structural differences between the analyzed gangliosides suggest that MCPyV VP1 likely interacts with sialic acids on both branches of the GT1b carbohydrate chain. Identification of a potential host cell receptor for MCPyV will aid in the elucidation of its entry mechanism and pathophysiology.

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    ABSTRACT: Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive neuroendocrine skin cancer. The Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) is implicated in its pathogenesis. Immune mechanisms are also implicated. Patients who are immunosuppressed have an increased risk. There is evidence that high intratumoral T-cell counts and immune transcripts are associated with favorable survival. Spontaneous regressions implicate immune effector mechanisms. Immunogenicity is also supported by observation of autoimmune paraneoplastic syndromes. Case reports suggest that immune modulation, including reduction of immune suppression, can result in tumor regression. The relationships between MCPyV infection, the immune response, and clinical outcome, however, remain poorly understood. Circulating antibodies against MCPyV antigens are present in most individuals. MCPyV-reactive T cells have been detected in both MCC patients and control subjects. High intratumoral T-cell counts are also associated with favorable survival in MCPyV-negative MCC. That the immune system plays a central role in preventing and controlling MCC is supported by several observations. MCCs often develop, however, despite the presence of humoral and cellular immune responses. A better understanding on how MCPyV and MCC evade the immune response will be necessary to develop effective immunotherapies.
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