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Cell Calcium. 2000 Sep;28(3):137-49.

Role of Ca2+in the replication and pathogenesis of rotavirus and other viral infections.

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Laboratorio de Fisiología Gastrointestinal, Centro de Biofísica y Bioquímica, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC) Caracas, Venezuela.


Ca2+ plays a key role in many pathological processes, including viral infections. Rotavirus, the major etiological agent of viral gastroenteritis in children and young animals, provides a useful model to study a number of Ca2+ dependent virus-cell interactions. Rotavirus entry, activation of transcription, morphogenesis, cell lysis, particle release, and the distant action of viral proteins are Ca2+ dependent processes. In the extracellular medium, Ca2+ stabilizes the structure of the viral capsid. During entry into the cell the low cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration induced the solubilization of the outer protein layer of the capsid and transcriptase activation. Viral protein synthesis modifies Ca2+ homeostasis which, in turn, favours viral morphogenesis and induces cell death. The generation of diarrhea is a multifactorial process involving Ca2+ dependent secretory processes of mediators and water and electrolytes, as well as the induction of cell death in the different cell types that compose the intestinal epithelium. The discovery of the non-structural viral protein NSP4 as a viral enterotoxin and the possible participation of the enteric nervous system in the pathogenesis of diarrhea represent significant advances in its understanding. Ca2+ also plays a role in the replication cycles and pathogenesis of other viral diseases such as poliovirus, Coxsackie virus, cytomegalovirus, vaccinia and measles virus and HIV.

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