Navigation Links
Scientists uncover secrets of potential bioterror virus
Date:2/17/2009

GALVESTON, Texas Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have discovered a key tactic that the Rift Valley fever virus uses to disarm the defenses of infected cells.

The mosquito-borne African virus causes fever in humans, inflicting liver damage, blindness and even death on a small percentage of the people it infects. Rift Valley fever also afflicts cattle, goats and sheep, resulting in a nearly 100 percent abortion rate in these animals. Its outbreaks periodically cause economic devastation in parts of Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe, and bioterrorism experts warn that its introduction to the United States would cripple the North American beef industry.

"It's really important to know how this virus causes disease, and that's what we're doing here, working to understand its pathogenicity at the molecular level," said assistant professor Tetsuro Ikegami, lead author of a paper on the discovery now appearing in PLoS Pathogens.

Ikegami and his collaborators focused on a viral protein called NSs. The protein was already known to be a major factor in making Rift Valley fever more virulent; earlier research had shown that it penetrated cell nuclei and disrupted the coding of RNA messages, including those ordering the production of the antiviral protein interferon beta.

"We didn't know what the mechanism was, but we suspected NSs had some additional function that would promote viral replication," Ikegami said. So starting with an already weakened strain of Rift Valley fever virus produced as part of a vaccine development project he created a genetically engineered form of the virus that lacked the genes for NSs.

Safety precautions make working with natural, "wild-type" Rift Valley fever virus difficult; at UTMB, investigations are restricted to a tightly secured biosafety level 4 lab, where researchers work in protective, full-body "spacesuits." By contrast, the vaccine strain of the virus that Ikegami modified, known as MP-12, can safely be handled inside a standard biosafety cabinet.

Using the NSs-free mutant virus to perform a series of cell-culture experiments, the researchers found that NSs does in fact have a second function. It attacks a protein called PKR, the beginning of a chain of biochemical reactions leading to the accumulation of a molecular complex known as phosphorylated eIF2-alpha. Phosphorylated eIF2-alpha suppresses overall protein production. Unblocked, it would prevent Rift Valley fever virus from using cellular protein synthesis machinery to make the proteins it needs to replicate itself. But since NSs prevents the phosphorylation of eIF2-alpha by taking out PKR, the virus is free to copy itself within host cells without interference.

"It's amazing that the virus evolved to use one protein to do two jobs, to use its very limited genetic information to perform these very different functions," said microbiology and immunology professor Shinji Makino, senior author of the paper. "It's really interesting, and it's also important, because these types of experiments are critical to learning how to control this virus."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jim Kelly
jpkelly@utmb.edu
409-772-8791
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. New prion protein discovered by Canadian scientists may offer insight into mad cow disease
2. Scientists Probe Sepsis Deadly Secrets
3. Scientists puzzled by severe allergic reaction to cancer drug in the middle Southern US
4. Scientists Develop Natural Protection for Stored Foods
5. Scientists detect presence of marburg virus in african fruit bats
6. Scientists Spot Brains Free Will Center
7. Scientists ID Likely Culprit in Popcorn Lung
8. Scientists explain how insulin secreting cells maintain their glucose sensitivity
9. Scripps Research scientists shed new light on how antibodies fight HIV
10. Scientists, physicians present latest findings in personalized cancer treatment and prevention
11. Scientists demonstate link between genetic variant and effectiveness of smoking cessation meds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/7/2016)... CT (PRWEB) , ... December 07, 2016 , ... A ... prompted an outpouring of comments on social media that offer a rare glimpse into ... psychiatrist, leading ADHD authority and New York Times bestselling author, has described people with ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... MA (PRWEB) , ... December 07, 2016 , ... They ... They are sisters and wives, brothers and fathers, from New England and around the ... and its stigma, and are brought together in a beautiful and compelling new photographic ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... December 07, 2016 , ... ... performance connectors, is now promoting to the US market its advanced highly customizable ... LAMTAC® and ODU TURNTAC®. These advanced technologies are ideal for a wide ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... December 07, 2016 , ... Baciocco ... services to residents in the Sacramento/Folsom region, is initiating a charity event to ... The Another Choice Another Chance treatment center in Sacramento works to provide area ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... PA (PRWEB) , ... December 07, 2016 , ... One ... regular changing of the securement tape is painful for her. "This is why the ... to patients’ heads," she said. , They then created a prototype of the patent-pending ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/7/2016)... , Dec. 7, 2016   Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ... it has completed enrollment in the ralinepag phase 2 ... targeting the prostacyclin pathway for the treatment of pulmonary ... at sites globally. "This marks an important ... of our strategic focus on our pipeline," said ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc. (NYSE: DPLO) has launched Diplomat Specialty Infusion Group, ... Professional, BioRx, MedPro Rx, and XAS Infusion Suites. To ... ... Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy (PRNewsFoto/Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc.) ... we continue to build on the work we have done, we ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... 2016   Rx Savings Solutions has partnered with ... its Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) to offer more than ... healthcare software, ultimately saving money on their prescriptions. ... members with access to our software that will alert them ... therapy can be found," says Michael Rea , founder ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: