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 Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>