Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fruit Fly Gene Study Could Yield New Flu Treatments

10.07.2008
Scientists may be able to stave off influenza infection by targeting one of more than 100 proteins inside host cells on which the virus depends. These potential drug targets are the result of a study in which researchers tested the ability of a modified influenza virus to infect fruit fly cells.

As they design new drugs to fight off influenza, scientists may not need to attack the virus directly. Instead, they may be able to stave off infection by targeting one of more than 100 proteins inside host cells on which the virus depends.

These potential drug targets are the result of a study in which scientists, led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Paul Ahlquist and colleague Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tested the ability of a modified influenza virus to infect fruit fly cells. “Our findings give us considerable hope that—with a large number of host targets to choose from—we could develop drugs to more stably suppress the virus and not allow the virus to evolve nearly as quickly to generate resistance,” Ahlquist said. The team described their findings in a July 9, 2008, advance online publication of the journal Nature.

Viruses possess only a limited number of genes, so they must hijack a host cell’s own protein machinery to enter the cell and replicate their genes. Relatively few of influenza’s interactions with host proteins are understood, according to Ahlquist, and this has limited drug development.

... more about:
»Ahlquist »Cell »Infection »Influenza

“So far, antiviral treatments against influenza have targeted specific viral enzymes or functions,” he said. “The problem has been that the virus can mutate itself to develop resistance to these drugs. Our hope is that by identifying host functions on which the influenza virus depends, we can develop drugs that target these functions. And since those functions are encoded by the host, the virus cannot use simple mutations to develop resistance to such drugs.”

Although fruit flies are not naturally infected by the influenza virus, Ahlquist and his colleagues knew the fly would be a powerful tool in identifying the genes and proteins that facilitate infection. A great many fly genes have counterparts in humans, and the researchers could analyze the function of individual fly genes using a technique known as RNA interference. So the researchers genetically altered influenza virus so that it could infect cultured fruit fly cells grown in the laboratory. They also added a gene that would produce a telltale fluorescence when the virus successfully replicated in fly cells.

They next used RNA interference -- treating fly cells with small snippets of RNA -- to individually suppress the function of each of 13,071 genes, representing 90 percent of all fly genes. If a gene is important for allowing the virus to replicate, fly cells in which that gene had been shut off would not emit the fluorescent signal signifying infection. Using this screen, the researchers identified more than 100 host cell genes that the virus depended on for infection.

“We found that the virus depends on the function of fly genes in a wide range of cellular processes,” said Ahlquist. “This tells us that quite a variety of host functions are important to the virus and that there could be a broad range of options for antiviral drugs.”

The researchers wanted to be sure that their findings were relevant for influenza infections that occur outside of the laboratory. So, as an initial check, they tested the ability of natural strains of the virus to infect mammalian cells lacking three of the genes they had identified in the fruit fly cells. The genes they chose participate in three different cellular processes known to be involved in the life cycle of the virus. They found that suppressing the function of any of the three diverse genes—called ATP6V0D1, COX6A1 and NXF1—thwarted viral replication.

The researchers also tested how blocking these genes might affect infection with other viruses, and found that all three genes were influenza-specific. Suppressing them did not affect replication of two other viruses they tested. Thus, said Ahlquist, the influenza virus functions in a way that is distinct from the other viruses and that may offer a prime target for influenza-specific antiviral drugs.

Jennifer Michalowski | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.hhmi.org

Further reports about: Ahlquist Cell Infection Influenza

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>