Navigation Links
MIT explains spread of 1918 flu
Date:2/18/2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--MIT researchers have explained why two mutations in the H1N1 avian flu virus were critical for viral transmission in humans during the 1918 pandemic outbreak that killed at least 50 million people.

The team showed that the 1918 influenza strain developed two mutations in a surface molecule called hemagglutinin (HA), which allowed it to bind tightly to receptors in the human upper respiratory tract.

Two mutations dramatically change the HA binding affinity to receptors found in the human upper airways, said Ram Sasisekharan, the Underwood Prescott Professor of Biological Engineering and Health Sciences and Technology.

Sasisekharan is the senior author of a paper on the work to be published in the Feb. 18 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In January, Sasisekharan and colleagues reported in Nature Biotechnology that flu viruses can only bind to human respiratory cells if they match the shape of sugar (or glycan) receptors found on those cells.

The glycan receptors found in the human respiratory tract are known as alpha 2-6 receptors, and they come in two shapes-one resembling an open umbrella, and another resembling a cone. To infect humans the MIT team found that avian flu viruses must gain the ability to bind to the umbrella-shaped alpha 2-6 receptor.

In the current study, the team discovered that two mutations in HA allow flu viruses to bind tightly or with high affinity to the umbrella-shaped glycan receptors.

The affinity between the influenza virus HA and the glycan receptors appears to be a critical determinant for viral transmission, said Sasisekharan.

The researchers used the 1918 influenza virus as a model system to investigate the biochemical basis for hemagglutinin binding to glycans, which leads to viral transmission. They compared the virus that caused the 1918 pandemic (known as SC18) with a strain called NY18 that differs from SC18 by only one amino acid, and also the AV18 strain, which differs from SC18 by two amino acids.

Using ferrets (which are susceptible to human flu strains), researchers had earlier found that, while SC18 transmitted efficiently between ferrets, NY18 is only slightly infectious and AV18 not at all infectious.

These earlier findings correlate with the viruses' ability to bind umbrella-shaped alpha 2-6 glycan receptors, demonstrated in the current PNAS study.

NY18, which is only slightly infectious, binds to the umbrella-shaped alpha 2-6 receptors but not as well as SC18, which is highly infectious.

AV18, which does not infect humans, does not have any affinity for the umbrella-shaped alpha 2-6 receptors and binds only to alpha 2-3 receptors.

Another strain, TX18, binds to alpha 2-6 and alpha 2-3 but is much more infectious than NY18, because it binds with high affinity to the umbrella-shaped alpha 2-6 receptors.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on the varying infectiousness of these strains last year, but the PNAS study is the first that explains the exact biochemical reason underlying these differences.

This new work could aid researchers in monitoring the HA mutations in the H5N1 avian flu strains currently circulating in Asia. These mutations could enable the virus to jump from birds to humans, as many epidemiologists fear will occur.


'/>"/>

Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Challenge Spreadable Butter Now Features Marteks lifesDHA(TM)
2. Study Finds Widespread Vitamin and Mineral Use Among Cancer Survivors, Although Benefits of Such Use Remain Unclear
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/5/2016)... Australian-US drug discovery and development company, Novogen Limited (ASX:NRT; NASDAQ: ... Chairman, Mr John O,Connor , and new Deputy Chairman, ... James Garner , has also been formally appointed to the ... Iain Ross , will resume his role on the ... , has also been formally appointed to the Board as ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... Falls Church, VA (PRWEB) , ... ... ... a first-year cybersecurity conference presented by Bloomsburg University’s Digital Forensics Club, takes ... Bloomsburg, PA. The two-day event features 20+ speakers and activities such as ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... N.J. , Feb. 4, 2016 ContraVir ... focused on the development and commercialization of targeted antiviral ... CEO & Investor Conference 2016, to be held February ... Source Capital Group,s 2016 Disruptive Growth & Healthcare Conference, ... on February 10-11, 2016. James Sapirstein , ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Many of the engineers at FireflySci, Inc. have been manufacturing ... apart from other cuvette manufacturers is their supercharged customer service and their extensive database ... this steady flow of inside information, they have recently revamped their manufacturing techniques to ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:1/7/2016)... Jan. 7, 2016 This BCC Research report ... biometric technologies and devices, identifying newer markets and exploring ... types of biometric devices. Includes forecast from 2015 to ... newer markets and explore the expansion of the present ... each type of biometric technology, determine its current market ...
(Date:1/7/2016)...  A United States District Court in ... country to interpret a biometric privacy statute in a ... the photo website Shutterfly brought by the law firm Carey ... vs. SHUTTERFLY, INC.; and THISLIFE, INC ( N.D. Ill ... the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act by collecting and scanning ...
(Date:1/6/2016)... Jan. 6, 2016 Based on its ... & Sullivan recognizes MorphoTrak, LLC, a U.S. subsidiary ... Frost & Sullivan Company of the Year Award. ... technology, Morpho Wave™ , has consolidated the company,s ... biometrics market. Morpho Wave is a highly ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):