Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers find 'secret weapon' used by SARS virus

09.08.2006
In 2003, the highly contagious and often-deadly mystery disease now called SARS emerged explosively out of Southern China. It eventually killed an estimated 916 people in Asia, Europe, and North and South America--nearly one in ten of those it infected.

When scientists identified the virus that caused this sudden acute respiratory syndrome, they classified it as a coronavirus--a virus family whose other members cause many common colds. But to there was nothing common about the lethality of SARS; clearly, this coronavirus had some nasty tricks up its sleeve.

Now, in a discovery that suggests a possible new route by which scientists might fashion a vaccine against SARS, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) have uncovered one of those tricks: a "secret weapon" that the SARS coronavirus uses to sabotage the immune defenses of infected cells. Experiments conducted by the UTMB scientists show that a SARS coronavirus protein called "nsp1" causes the breakdown of biochemical messages that normally prompt the production of a protein critical to defending the body against viruses.

"The SARS nsp1 protein degrades the messenger RNA instructions sent from DNA to make interferon beta, which is crucial to host immunity," said UTMB professor of microbiology and immunology Shinji Makino, senior author of a paper on the discovery to be published online the week of August 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "This is a very rare phenomenon, and it raises a lot of questions -- among them, whether we can make a mutant form of SARS coronavirus that lacks the ability to degrade messenger RNA, which could ultimately lead to the creation of a live attenuated vaccine for SARS."

Although many viruses interfere with host cells making messenger RNA or translating it into infection-fighting proteins, only one other virus is known to break down messenger RNA: herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Makino credits lead author Wataru Kamitani, a UTMB postdoctoral research fellow, with noticing that the nsp1 protein had an unexpected effect while he was investigating a different set of SARS coronavirus proteins. "He found this suppression of host gene expression, and then he designed several elegant experiments that showed it was caused by RNA degradation, something never before seen in an RNA virus."

Exactly how that degradation takes place, how an RNA virus can preserve its integrity when it makes a protein that breaks down RNA, and whether a mutated non-RNA-degrading SARS coronavirus could constitute a workable SARS vaccine are all issues that Makino's group intends to pursue. "The main concern for everybody is whether SARS will come back," Makino said. "We want to be ready for it if it does."

Jim Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utmb.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related
17.08.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Climate change: In their old age, trees still accumulate large quantities of carbon

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related

17.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Superconductivity research reveals potential new state of matter

17.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>