Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Iowa State University researcher discovers Ebola’s deadly secret

Research at Iowa State University has led scientists to uncover how the deadly Zaire Ebola virus decoys cells and eventually kills them.

A research team led by Gaya Amarasinghe, an assistant professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, had previously solved the structure of a critical part of an Ebola protein known as VP35, which is involved in host immune suppression.

Amarasinghe and his research team now know how VP35 is able to do it.

When most viruses invade a cell, they start to make RNA in order to replicate.

When the healthy host cell senses the replicating RNA, the host cell starts to activate anti-viral defenses that halt replication and eventually help clear the viral infections.

What Amarasinghe and his group have discovered is that Ebola virus encoded VP35 protein actually masks the replicating viral ribonucleic acid (RNA), so the cell doesn't recognize that there is an invading virus.

One of the reasons Ebola, in particular the strain isolated from Zaire, is so deadly is that the host cells don't have any immune response when the virus enters the cell, said Amarasinghe.

"The question with Ebola has always been 'Why can't host cells mount an immune response against the Ebola virus, like they do against other viruses?'" he said. ]

"The answer is, 'If the cell doesn't know that there's an infection, it cannot build up any response.' So our work really gets at the mechanism Ebola infection and immune evasion."

The collaborative approach taken by Amarasinghe enabled him to team up with virologist Christopher Basler at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York City, to investigate how the structural findings match up with how these proteins function inside the cell.

"Our initial structure that we solved in 2008 was key to expanding our knowledge, but the structure was just part of the equation, and when we put it together with the functional studies, everything made sense," Amarasinghe said.

The current research describing the protein-RNA complex structure, which was solved by using non-infectious VP35 protein, and associated functional studies is published in the current issue of the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology and is available as an advanced online publication.

These findings build on Amarasinghe's research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America last January.

In his current research, Amarasinghe focused on a specific part of the Zaire Ebola VP35 protein that he thought looked unusual.

As testing results came in, he found that the suspect region of the protein was binding with, or neutralizing, the part of the host cell that triggers the immune system in the cell.

"The interesting thing about the Ebola virus is that it doesn't let cells even get started to defend themselves," he said. "This hides the (viral) RNA from being recognized by the host cell. This is a powerful immune evasion mechanism."

Amarasinghe, along with Daisy Leung, associate scientist; Mina Farahbakhsh, undergraduate student; Eshwar Ramanan, graduate student; Luke Helgeson, undergraduate student; and Richard Honzatko, professor; all from Iowa State's biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology department, together with Kathleen Prins, graduate student, and Basler, associate professor; from Mount Sinai School of Medicine; JoAnn Tufariello; assistant clinical professor of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Dominika Borek, instructor; and Zbyszek Otwinowski from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; and Jay Nix from the Berkeley National Laboratory, Calif., co-authored this study.

Work in the Amarasinghe laboratory was funded in part by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, National Institutes of Health, and the Midwest Regional Center for Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research. X-ray crystallographic data were collected at the Advanced Light Source beamline 4.2.2., and the Advanced Photon Source Structural Biology Center Sector 19 beamlines.

Gaya Amarasinghe | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>