Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCLA scientists reveal how Nipah virus infects cells

07.07.2005


Discovery could counteract use of deadly virus for bioterrorism



UCLA scientists have discovered how the deadly Nipah virus infiltrates human cells to cause encephalitis. Designated as a potential bioterrorism agent by the National Biodefense Research Agenda, the virus exploits a protein essential to embryonic development to enter cells and launch its attack. The online edition of Nature reports the findings July 6.

"In its natural state, the Nipah virus can be used as a potential bioterrorism agent capable of devastating an entire country’s public health and economy," said Dr. Benhur Lee, principal investigator and UCLA assistant professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. "Now that we understand how the virus operates, we can develop vaccines and drugs to block Nipah from entering the cells. This will help prevent infection and halt outbreaks before they reach epidemic proportions."


Since 1998, the Nipah virus has triggered disease outbreaks in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and Bangladesh. Animals spread the virus to people, where it causes life-threatening respiratory and neurological diseases that kill up to 70 percent of patients – a danger level equivalent to the Ebola virus.

To infect a cell, viruses must bind to a viral-specific receptor on the cell’s surface in order to penetrate it. Lee’s team identified a cell receptor called Ephrin-B2 as the key used by the Nipah virus to unlock the cells.

Located on brain cells and cells lining the blood vessels, Ephrin-B2 is critical to nervous system development and the growth of blood vessels in human and animal embryos. Ephrin-B2 is found in humans, horses, pigs and bats, which may explain why the infection can jump so easily from one species to another.

Collaborating with the University of Pennsylvania, the UCLA team applied tools of advanced molecular biology as well as old-fashioned detective work to track down the identity of the Ephrin-B2 receptor.

The researchers created a bait: they stitched the Nipah protein to part of a human antibody, like a worm on a fishing hook. When they placed this bait on cells at risk for Nipah infection, the antibody attached to a receptor on the cell surface. When placed on Nipah-resistant cells, however, the bait did not bind to the cell.

The scientists used an instrument that sorts molecules by weight to identify Ephrin-B2 as the receptor that bound to the bait.

To confirm their findings, the UCLA team engineered a harmless virus with Nipah virus proteins embedded in its coat. The decoy virus successfully infected cells vulnerable to the Nipah virus, but could not infect Nipah-resistant cells.

In the final step, the decoy virus entered nerve cells and cells lining blood vessels by latching onto Ephrin-B2, proving that the receptor is the same doorway that the real Nipah virus enters to infect these cells.

"We now can screen for small molecules that will block viral entry via Ephrin B-2 and develop them as therapeutic drugs," said Lee. "Because pigs are particularly susceptible to Nipah infection, public health officials could use these drugs to protect the animals, pig farmers and first-line responders, like paramedics, from a Nipah virus outbreak."

In the United States, agricultural experts estimate the value of pigs alone in the hog-farming industry at $8.6 billion.

The first reported outbreak of Nipah virus in Malaysia occurred between 1998 and 1999, sickening 265 people and killing 105. Spread from bats to pigs to humans, the outbreak infected more than 200 pig farmers and killed 40 percent. Desperate to contain the outbreak, the government ordered its military to kill more than 1 million pigs, resulting in economic devastation to the country.

In Bangladesh, death rates of repeated outbreaks of Nipah virus in the past four years have risen to 70 percent, suggesting that the virus is growing more lethal.

Elaine Schmidt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mednet.ucla.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short
23.03.2017 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

nachricht WPI team grows heart tissue on spinach leaves
23.03.2017 | Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>