Sylvester Researchers Identify Protein that Triggers Virus-Mediated Chronic Inflammation and Cancers

Viruses are linked to approximately 12 percent of all cancers and are associated with chronic inflammation. Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers Noula Shembade, Ph.D., graduate research assistant Richard Hunte and colleagues have honed in on what activates that process. They have found the human protein CADM1 interacts with Kaposi’s sarcoma viral proteins and promotes inflammation that can result in the development of certain cancers. An article detailing the results of their research was published on April 26 in PLOS Pathogens.

“These findings will pave the way for therapeutic interventions in KSVH-associated cancers, including highly aggressive AIDS-related lymphomas,” said Shembade who is an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology.

Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus, KSHV, causes Kaposi’s sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma, and multicentric Castleman’s disease, which acts like lymphoma. When the research team infected primary human cells with KSHV, within hours CADM1 levels in the cells increased significantly. In addition, they found significantly high CADM1 protein levels in KSHV-caused cancer cells. Suppressing CADM1 production revealed that this protein is necessary to activate inflammation through its interaction with other proteins.

Further experiments showed that CADM1 production is required for KSHV-infected cells to survive. In total, their findings suggest that CADM1 plays a key role in the survival and growth of cancer cells associated with KSHV infection.

Previously this Sylvester research team found that the same protein plays a similar role with a different cancer-associated virus known as HTLV-1.

Here’s an interesting twist: CADM1 is known to play the opposite role in other cancers, suppressing the growth of melanoma, lung cancer, and other solid tumors.

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