Immunomodulatory proteins encoded by the larger DNA viruses interact with a wide spectrum of immune effector molecules that regulate the antiviral response in the infected host. Here we show that certain poxviruses, including myxoma virus, Shope fibroma virus, rabbitpox virus, vaccinia virus (strain Lister), cowpox virus, and raccoonpox virus, express a new family of secreted proteins which interact with members of both the CC and CXC superfamilies of chemokines. However, swinepox virus and vaccinia virus (strain WR) do not express this activity. Using a recombinant poxviruses, the myxoma M-T1 and rabbitpox virus 35kDa secreted proteins were identified as prototypic members of this family of chemokine binding proteins. Members of this T1/35kDa family of poxvirus-secreted proteins share multiple stretches of identical sequence motifs, including eight conserved cysteine residues, but are otherwise unrelated to any cellular genes in the database. The affinity of the CC chemokine RANTES interaction with M-T1 was assessed by Scatchard analysis and yielded a K(d) of approximately 73 nM. In rabbits infected with a mutant rabbitpox virus, in which the 35kDa gene is deleted, there was an increased number of extravasating leukocytes in the deep dermis during the early phases of infection. These observations suggest that members of the T1/35kDa class of secreted viral proteins bind multiple members of the chemokine superfamily in vitro and modulate the influx of inflammatory cells into virus-infected tissues in vivo.
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