Role of the Ubiquitin/ Proteasome pathway in Coxsackievirus-Induced Myocarditis

Myocarditis is an inflammatory heart disease caused by the coxsackievirus that enlarges and damages the heart and may lead to sudden heart failure. In severe cases, heart transplant is the only treatment for this condition. When the infection occurs in newborns and children the outcome is frequently fatal. Even with non-lethal infections, long term heart failure is a common result. Research has shown that inhibiting the major intracellular pathway for protein degradation, called the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway, limits the ability of the virus to multiply and infect other cells. The proteasome are immune cells that accumulate and destroy unwanted or damaged proteins. The ubiquitin is a molecule that latches onto damaged or mutated proteins and flags them for destruction by the proteasome. By blocking this pathway, research has shown that the coxsackievirus can be prevented from producing proteins, which may affect the ability of the virus to replicate. Guang Gao is studying the importance of the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway in coxsackievirus replication and in virus-induced acute heart injury and chronic heart failure. His studies will provide important insights into the interaction between the virus and the ubiquitin/proteasome system and ultimately may lead to the development of more effective methods of preventing or treating myocarditis.