Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017

HZI researchers have identified a tool used by viruses to shut off the immune response

Bacteria and viruses continuously challenge the immune system. They reach the body by inhalation or via host contact with saliva, blood, or other secretions, but upon entry, the immune system recognises and fights these pathogens through a variety of mechanisms. In most cases, the immune system successfully brings the infection under control and eliminates the pathogen.


Illustration of virus particles.

Pixabay

However, one virus family is superbly adapted to the immune system and cannot be eliminated: the herpesviruses. Infection is for life. A research team at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) has identified a herpesvirus protein that specifically shuts off the immune response, enabling the virus to establish lifelong infection in the body. The results will be published in the journal PLOS Pathogens on 25 May 2017.

Herpesviruses have coexisted with humans for millions of years, and during this time they have developed elegant strategies to escape immune system control. An important representative of the herpesvirus family is cytomegalovirus (CMV) – about half of the German population carries this virus.

“Acute CMV infection of a woman during pregnancy is a huge danger for the infant in the womb. During pregnancy, CMV can be transmitted to the fetus and cause serious and lifelong damage including deafness and microcephaly,” says Prof Melanie Brinkmann, who has led the junior research group “Viral Immune Modulation” at the HZI since 2010. To date, no vaccine against CMV is available, in part because the mechanisms used by this virus to weaken the immune response are not fully understood. “To successfully fight CMV infection, we need a detailed understanding of the switches flipped by this virus to outsmart our immune system,” says Brinkmann.

As part of the Helmholtz Virtual Institute “Viral Strategies of Immune Evasion” (VISTRIE), the Brinkmann research group used an unbiased screen of CMV proteins to identify viral inhibitors of the immune response. They found a poorly characterised CMV protein that is able to incapacitate the antiviral immune response just a few minutes after infection. During infection, this protein, named M35, is introduced directly into a target host cell with the virus particle itself.

In infected cells, it precisely controls the nucleus – the cellular control centre – where it blocks the antiviral immune response. By means of genetically modified viruses the researchers found in mice that the immune system is more adept at controlling CMV infection when M35 is absent from the virus particle.

“Our work shows that immediately after entry in the host species, CMV takes action to mitigate the immune response”, says Melanie Brinkmann. “It is a race against time that CMV unequivocally wins. We have shown that the M35 protein is essential for CMV to win this competition. Thus, it provides a crucial contribution to the strategy used by this virus to establish a lifelong infection in its host.”

In collaboration with researchers at the HZI and the Hannover Medical School (MHH), Brinkmann’s team now plans to further characterise the mechanism of the M35 protein. In the future, specific inhibitors that block the function of M35 may become promising antiviral substances for the treatment of CMV infection.

Original publication:
B. Chan, V. Gonçalves Magalhães, N.A.W. Lemmermann, V. Juranić Lisnić, M. Stempel, K.A. Bussey, E. Reimer, J. Podlech, S. Lienenklaus, M.J. Reddehase, S. Jonjić, M.M. Brinkmann: The murine cytomegalovirus M35 protein antagonizes type I IFN induction downstream of pattern recognition receptors by targeting NF-κB mediated transcription. PLOS Pathogens, 2017, http://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1006382

The press release and a picture are available on our website: https://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/en/news_events/news/view/article/complete/how_herpe...

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research:
Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany, are engaged in the study of different mechanisms of infection and of the body’s response to infection. Helping to improve the scientific community’s understanding of a given bacterium’s or virus’ pathogenicity is key to developing effective new treatments and vaccines. http://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/en

Contact:
Susanne Thiele, Press Officer
susanne.thiele@helmholtz-hzi.de

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research
Press and Communications
Inhoffenstr. 7
D-38124 Braunschweig
Germany

Phone: +49 531 6181-1404

Susanne Thiele | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond
21.11.2017 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht The main switch
21.11.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

21.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>