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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 May 25;107(21):9825-30. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0913582107. Epub 2010 May 10.

Viral fibroblast growth factor, matrix metalloproteases, and caspases are associated with enhancing systemic infection by baculoviruses.

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  • 1Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Program, Division of Biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-4901, USA.


Most arthropod-borne and invertebrate viruses are orally ingested and commence infection in cells of the invertebrate intestine. Infection of secondary sites and eventual transmission to other hosts is hindered by basal lamina, a tightly interwoven and virus-impenetrable noncellular layer, lining the intestine and other organ cell layers. The mechanisms for viral escape across basal laminae are unknown. We describe an elegant mechanism mediated by a baculovirus-encoded fibroblast growth factor (vFGF) that signals a previously undescribed stepwise cascade of protease activation wherein matrix metalloproteases activate effector caspases, leading to remodeling of basal lamina lining tracheal cells associated with the intestine and culminating in the establishment of efficient systemic infections. Because FGFs coordinate diverse functions during development, metabolic processes, and tissue repair, it is plausible that the vFGF-mediated pathway described here is widely used during developmental and pathogenic processes that involve basal lamina remodeling.

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