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CrmE, a Novel Soluble Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Encoded by Poxviruses

  • Margarida Saraiva
  • Antonio Alcami
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2001
  • Biology


Cytokines and chemokines play a critical role in both the innate and acquired immune responses and constitute prime targets for pathogen sabotage. Molecular mimicry of cytokines and cytokine receptors is a mechanism encoded by large DNA viruses to modulate the host immune response. Three tumor necrosis factor receptors (TNFRs) have been identified in the poxvirus cowpox virus. Here we report the identification and characterization of a fourth distinct soluble TNFR, named cytokine response modifier E (CrmE), encoded by cowpox virus. The crmE gene has been sequenced in strains of the orthopoxviruses cowpox virus, ectromelia virus, and camelpox virus, and was found to be active in cowpox virus. crmE is expressed as a secreted 18-kDa protein with TNF binding activity. CrmE was produced in the baculovirus and vaccinia virus expression systems and was shown to bind human, mouse, and rat TNF, but not human lymphotoxin α, conjugates of lymphotoxins α and β, or seven other ligands of the TNF superfamily. However, CrmE protects cells only from the cytolytic activity of human TNF. CrmE is a new member of the TNFR superfamily which is expressed as a soluble molecule that blocks the binding of TNF to high-affinity TNFRs on the cell surface. The remarkable finding of a fourth poxvirus-encoded TNFR suggests that modulation of TNF activity is complex and represents a novel viral immune evasion mechanism.

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