Using a unique test created at UTMB that adds a light-emitting molecular beacon, called luciferase, to Ebola viruses and the virus-like particles, the investigators were able to determine exactly when and where each broke out of its bubble, and track its progress.
"Up to that point, it's really a bus ride for these viruses, and PI3 kinase is the bus driver," Davey said. "Whether you're talking about Ebola or Ebola virus-like particles, they've all got the virus envelope proteins that trigger the PI3 kinase pathway, which is the first step of getting the virus onto that bus."
Davey noted that while other viruses had been found that activated the PI3 kinase pathway, Ebola was the first with envelope proteins that had been seen doing so. In addition, he said, it was the first virus to be discovered interacting with the PI3 kinase pathway in order to enter cells, which could have profound implications.
"It's actually triggering the reorganizing of the cell for its own devious outcomes infecting the cell," Davey said. "But there are other possible outcomes of fiddling around with the PI3 kinase. You can get the cell to move, you can get it to live longer, all advantages for a virus. So I'm sure that this is going to be important in other viruses."
In addition, a new generation of drugs are being developed that target PI3 kinase, since the enzyme is often activated in cancers. It is possible that these could also be used to defend against Ebola virus.
|Contact: Jim Kelly|
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston