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How the body fights against viruses
Date:4/22/2014

This news release is available in German.

Scientists of the Max F. Perutz Laboratories of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna, together with colleagues of the ETH Zurich, have now shown how double stranded RNA, such as viral genetic information, is prevented from entering the nucleus of a cell. During the immune response against viral infection, the protein ADAR1 moves from the cell nucleus into the surrounding cytoplasm. There it modifies viral RNA to inhibit reproduction of the virus. But how is the human genome protected from inadvertent import of viral RNA into the nucleus? The current study of the research teams from Vienna and Zurich, published in PNAS Plus, sheds the first light on this question.

The human immune system: defense against germs

We are constantly exposed to bacteria and viruses. Luckily our body has developed a set of mechanisms the immune system to fend off and fight such attacks. Viruses are small particles that cannot survive outside of a host cell. Upon entering the body they release their genetic material into our cells in order to reproduce. This is one of the points where the body's immune system attacks: enzymes chemically modify the viral genetic information in a manner that renders it useless for the production of new virus particles.

ADAR1 immunological weapon to fight viruses

ADAR1 is one of the enzymes involved in the antiviral immune response. Usually it is located in the nucleus of the cell, but upon infection, ADAR1 relocates to the cytoplasm. It binds and chemically modifies the virus-RNA so that it cannot be used to produce new virus. But how does the cell make sure that ADAR1 doesn't take the bound viral RNA back into the nucleus? After all, the human genom
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Contact: Michael Jantsch
michael.jantsch@univie.ac.at
43-142-775-6230
University of Vienna
Source:Eurekalert  

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