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A step forward in virology
Date:4/24/2008

s to the unwelcome guest, Ari Helenius said. Aided by Professor Lukas Pelkmans team, Ja-son Mercer examined over 7000 different proteins in order to find out not only which Trojans let the virus in, but which as well are chiefly involved in the supply chain. Using definitive methods, the researchers de-activated each one of the suspected proteins to examine their function,and narrowed the vast number of proteins down to 140 potential culprits. The enzyme kinase PAK1 turned out to be an especially helpful citizen of Troy. Without PAK1, the pathogens trick did not work and the cell did not form any evaginations.

Until now, very little has been known about the mechanism vaccinia viruses use to infiltrate a cell. Professor Helenius, whose research objective is to find out what methods and strategies various different viruses employ to invade somatic cells, clarified This strategy is a new one. Other viruses, such as herpes, adeno and H1 viruses use macropinocytosis. However the vaccinia virus is the first one identified that uses apoptotic mimicry as an entry strategy.

Knowledge of the virus strategies and the signal proteins involved in the ingestion of a virus by a cell is crucial to finding and developing new agents against the pathogens. Until now, antiviral medication has targeted the virus itself. Ari Helenius, however, is looking for substances that interrupt the signaling chain and halt the communication between the virus and the cell. If the cell does not ingest a virus, the virus cannot reproduce and is quickly eliminated by the immune system. This process also has another big advantage: Viruses cannot adapt to the obstruction of the signal chain all that quickly, he said.

Smallpox: a bioterrorist attack?

The vaccinia virus belongs to a family of particularly dangerous viruses, namely the pox viruses. The most infamous member, Variola, the casitive agent of smallpox constituted a global pandemic disease in the
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Contact: Jason Mercer
jason.mercer@bc.biol.ethz.ch
41-044-632-5818
ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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