Scientists have found that human T-cell lymphotropic virus, type 1 (HTLV-1) hijacks cellular machinery to establish an infection.
Research was undertaken using cutting-edge visualisation techniques such as X-ray crystallography, which was undertaken at Diamond, and single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM).
HTLV-1 is a virus that affects T cells, a type of white blood cell which plays a crucial role in our immune system. Currently, between five and 20 million people worldwide are infected by HTLV-1 and no cure or treatment is available. While most people infected with the virus do not experience symptoms, around two to five per cent will go on to develop adult T-cell leukaemia (ATL).
New research, led by a team from Imperial College London and the Francis Crick Institute, shows in atomic detail how HTLV-1 infects immune cells. By providing a more nuanced understanding of how the virus establishes infection in the body, the research will help to support the development of new, targeted therapies.
Read more on the Diamond Light Source website
Image: Scanning electron micrograph of a human T lymphocyte (also called a T cell) from the immune system of a healthy donor. Credit: NIAID