Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers uncover more about how poxviruses evade the immune system

04.02.2008
Findings by SLU, UAB teams could lead to new drugs targeting inflammatory and immune disorders

Scientists at Saint Louis University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham have uncovered important new information about a key protein that allows viruses such as smallpox to replicate and wreak havoc on the immune system.

The findings further our understanding of how the pox family of viruses work to subvert the immune system, the researchers say. They also believe their work could one day be used to develop new drugs to combat a variety of inflammatory and immunological disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and some forms of heart disease.

The research is soon to be published in an early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(www.pnas.org).

The paper describes the structure and actions of a powerful substance called interferon-gamma binding protein, which is notorious for the role it plays in helping the poxviruses to replicate. The research explores the interferon-gamma binding protein found in the mousepox virus – one of the family of viruses that also includes smallpox, monkeypox and cowpox.

“Cracking open and describing the structure and actions of interferon-gamma binding protein is incredibly exciting, given the important role this substance plays in subverting the immune system,” said Mark Buller, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and one of the study’s authors. “This breakthrough is something that many others have tried and failed to achieve.”

Normally when a virus enters the bloodstream, the immune system responds by producing a substance called interferon-gamma, which assists the development of the immune response that’s responsible for ridding the body of the virus.

Poxviruses, however, all come encoded with a potent weapon to evade the immune system: interferon-gamma binding protein. As its name implies, the protein literally binds to interferon-gamma and immobilizes it, preventing it from marshalling the immune system’s defenses. The poxvirus is then able to replicate and cause immense damage.

The research describes how interferon-gamma binding protein looks and behaves on the molecular level during this process, something not previously understood.

“The poxviruses are able to evade the immune system very skillfully,” Buller said, “so we wanted to identify exactly how these viruses work – what makes them so effective and efficient.”

Buller added that the findings have great potential for use in developing drugs that target immunological and inflammatory disorders, including a type of heart disease called atherosclerosis (sometimes referred to as hardening of the arteries), inflammatory bowel diseases (such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and rheumatoid arthritis.

Of all the poxviruses, smallpox in particular has played a gruesome role in human history. The virus is estimated to have caused between 300 million and 500 million deaths in the 20th century alone. Though smallpox was declared officially eradicated in 1979, many experts fear that clandestine samples of the virus may have survived – thus making it a major bioterrorism concern.

“The damage that the smallpox virus has done to mankind is horrific and enormous, which is why we think it’s so important to understand more about the poxviruses and how they operate,” Buller said. “The more knowledge we have, the better we should be able to cope with other major viruses and diseases in the future.”

Buller pointed to co-author Tony Nuara as being critical to the team’s success in understanding more about interferon-gamma binding protein. Nuara, now a fourth-year student at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, was working on his Ph.D. in molecular microbiology when taking part in the research effort.

“Without Tony, this research wouldn’t have happened,” Buller said. “He solved huge numbers of problems and figured out some answers to puzzling questions that previously had no answer.”

(For more information on Nuara and his contribution to the research effort, go to www.slu.edu/x20435.xml).

Mark R. Walter, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the paper’s senior author, also noted the efforts of co-authors Sung Il Yoon, Ph.D., Brandi C. Jones, Naomi J. Logsdon and Leigh J. Walter, all of whose work contributed to determining the three-dimensional structure of the binding protein.

“The structure provides a visual blueprint to guide our future studies on interferon-gamma binding protein, which one day may be used to prevent inflammatory disease,” Mark Walter said. “This is clearly a notable achievement.”

Donn Walker | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.slu.edu
http://www.slu.edu/x20435.xml

Further reports about: Buller evade immune immune system inflammatory interferon-gamma poxvirus

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Closing the carbon loop
08.12.2016 | University of Pittsburgh

nachricht Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine
08.12.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>