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Coinfecting Viruses and Mycoplasmas Can Appear To Cooperate

Very different kinds of pathogen-in this case, one a virus, the other a mycoplasma- can act as if cooperating when infecting cultured cells, with one augmenting the potency of the other, according to Peter Lidsky and Vadim I. Agol of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow, Russia, and their collaborators at the Academy and the nearby M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, as well as at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Thus a DNAase from a simultaneously infecting mycoplasma enhances the cell-killing activity of the encephalomyocarditis (EMC) virus, they report in the October Journal of Virology (83:9940-9951).

The Russian and Dutch microbiologists were analyzing what happens when EMC virus infects cultured cells. They were following up earlier studies in which Agol and his collaborators learned that poliovirus sometimes activates- but at other times suppresses- apoptosis (cell killing) in cells that it infects. Their 1995 report not only describes this apoptosis-triggering activity, but also presents the first case of apoptosis suppression via an RNA virus with a simple genome, he says. Both poliovirus andEMCare picornaviruses. While poliovirus infects the gastrointestinal tract, EMC infects the heart, making it a cardiovirus and thus a member of a more recently recognized group of human pathogens, according to Agol.

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