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Researchers discover innate virus-killing power in mammals
Date:10/19/2013

sequence similarities.

Ding joined the faculty at UCR in December of 2000 to test the other half of his hypothesis: does the B2 protein of Flock house virus suppress RNAi in its animal host?

Although RNAi was known as a major antiviral mechanism in plants by that time, few believed it was also true in the animal kingdom, which was known to fight viral infections by many other well-defined mechanisms. Over the next five years, Ding used Flock house virus to discover that fruit flies and C. elegans nematodes have the same RNAi virus-killing properties as plants, but the B2 in the virus stop their RNAi defenses from working. Remove the B2, and the hosts produce massive amounts of siRNAs and rapidly destroy the virus.

The findings, which were featured in a Science cover story in 2002, showed that RNAi is a common antiviral defense in plants, insects and nematodes, and explained why viruses have to keep a protein to suppress that defense. It also took Ding deeper into his fundamental premise"If RNAi remains as an effective antiviral defense in plants, insects and nematodes after their independent evolution for hundred millions of years, why would it stop working with mammals?"

To answer this question, Ding decided to use a cousin of the Flock house virusNodamura virusthat is lethal to young mice. In collaboration with Ding, the lab of Olivier Voinnet at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich also reported in an accompanying paper the detection of viral siRNAs in cultured mouse embryonic stem cells infected by the Encephalomyocarditis virus. These findings have opened the door to new ways to combat dangerous human viruses.

Ding's next goal is to raise $5 million so he can spend about five years studying new vaccines for human pathogens such as dengue fever. He is carefully optimistic about the findings to come.

"Maybe this is what w
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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