Navigation Links
How herpesvirus invades nervous system
Date:3/28/2013

(Chicago) Northwestern Medicine scientists have identified a component of the herpesvirus that "hijacks" machinery inside human cells, allowing the virus to rapidly and successfully invade the nervous system upon initial exposure.

Led by Gregory Smith, associate professor in immunology and microbiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, researchers found that viral protein 1-2, or VP1/2, allows the herpesvirus to interact with cellular motors, known as dynein. Once the protein has overtaken this motor, the virus can speed along intercellular highways, or microtubules, to move unobstructed from the tips of nerves in skin to the nuclei of neurons within the nervous system.

This is the first time researchers have shown a viral protein directly engaging and subverting the cellular motor; most other viruses passively hitch a ride into the nervous system.

"This protein not only grabs the wheel, it steps on the gas," says Smith. "Overtaking the cellular motor to invade the nervous system is a complicated accomplishment that most viruses are incapable of achieving. Yet the herpesvirus uses one protein, no others required, to transport its genetic information over long distances without stopping."

Herpesvirus is widespread in humans and affects more than 90 percent of adults in the United States. It is associated with several types of recurring diseases, including cold sores, genital herpes, chicken pox, and shingles. The virus can live dormant in humans for a lifetime, and most infected people do not know they are disease carriers. The virus can occasionally turn deadly, resulting in encephalitis in some.

Until now, scientists knew that herpesviruses travel quickly to reach neurons located deep inside the body, but the mechanism by which they advance remained a mystery.

Smith's team conducted a variety of experiments with VP1/2 to demonstrate its important role in transporting the virus, including artificial activation and genetic mutation of the protein. The team studied the herpesvirus in animals, and also in human and animal cells in culture under high-resolution microscopy. In one experiment, scientists mutated the virus with a slower form of the protein dyed red, and raced it against a healthy virus dyed green. They observed that the healthy virus outran the mutated version down nerves to the neuron body to insert DNA and establish infection.

"Remarkably, this viral protein can be artificially activated, and in these conditions it zips around within cells in the absence of any virus. It is striking to watch," Smith says.

He says that understanding how the viruses move within people, especially from the skin to the nervous system, can help better prevent the virus from spreading.

Additionally, Smith says, "By learning how the virus infects our nervous system, we can mimic this process to treat unrelated neurologic diseases. Even now, laboratories are working on how to use herpesviruses to deliver genes into the nervous system and kill cancer cells."

Smith's team will next work to better understand how the protein functions. He notes that many researchers use viruses to learn how neurons are connected to the brain.

"Some of our mutants will advance brain mapping studies by resolving these connections more clearly than was previously possible," he says.


'/>"/>
Contact: marla Paul
marla-paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. The raccoon spreads dangerous diseases as it invades Europe
2. A minute crustacean invades the red swamp crayfish
3. American Oak Skeletonizer moth invades Europe
4. Ben-Gurion U. licenses drug delivery platform for central nervous system diseases to NY biotech firm
5. Knee injuries in women linked to motion, nervous system differences
6. To spread, nervous system viruses sabotage cell, hijack transportation
7. Clues to nervous system evolution found in nerve-less sponge
8. Researchers find a better way to culture central nervous cells
9. IU biologists offer clearer picture of how protein machine systems tweak gene expression
10. Unexpected crustacean diversity discovered in northern freshwater ecosystems
11. Hot meets cold at new deep-sea ecosystem: Hydrothermal seep
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/14/2016)... SARASOTA, Fla., Nov. 14, 2016  xG Technology, Inc. ... in providing critical wireless communications for use in challenging ... ended September 30, 2016. Management will hold a conference ... at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (details below). ... announced a $16 million binding agreement to acquire Vislink ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 22, 2016  The American College of Medical Genetics and ... Magazine as one of the fastest-growing trade shows during ... the Bellagio in Las Vegas . ... of growth in each of the following categories: net square ... number of attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked ...
(Date:6/21/2016)... , June 21, 2016 NuData ... the new role of principal product architect and ... the director of customer development. Both will report ... technical officer. The moves reflect NuData,s strategic growth ... response to high customer demand and customer focus ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2016)... 2016 Biotest Pharmaceuticals Corporation (BPC), a leading ... the addition of its newest plasma collection center located ... . The 15,200 square foot state-of-the-art facility officially opened ... brings the total number of BPC,s plasma collection centers ... BPC,s Chief Executive Officer said "We are pleased to ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... -- Tempus, a technology company focused on supporting physicians ... Center have partnered to better determine which patients ... based on next generation genomic and transcriptomic sequencing. ... collaboration, Tempus will provide sequencing and analysis of ... Penn. Utilizing next-generation sequencing, machine learning and bioinformatics, ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... Connecticut , November 30, 2016 ... ... Aptuit, LLC today announced that ... library. An additional 150,000 novel compounds have increased the Screening ... to broaden the hit discovery capabilities of the company. This ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... ... November 30, 2016 , ... Energetiq Technology, a world leader ... generation, ultra-bright, Laser-Driven Light Source, the EQ-77, at the MRS Fall Exhibit 2016. ... offers higher radiance and irradiance from a truly broadband white light source. The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: