Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists find mutations that let bird flu adapt to humans

16.11.2006
By comparing influenza viruses found in birds with those of the avian virus that have also infected human hosts, researchers have identified key genetic changes required for pandemic strains of bird flu.

The new work, reported in the Nov. 16 issue of the journal Nature, illustrates the genetic changes required for the H5N1 avian influenza virus to adapt to easily recognize the receptors that are the gateway to human cells.

"We identified two changes that are important," says Yoshihiro Kawaoka, the senior author of the Nature paper and a virologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. "Both changes are needed for the H5N1 virus to recognize human receptors."

The new report provides a molecular blueprint for the genetic changes required to transform a virus that only infects birds to a virus capable of easily recognizing human receptors. Receptors are molecules on the surface of cells that permit the virus to dock with the cell and commandeer it to initiate a cascade of infection. By knowing what genetic changes are required for the virus to easily infect human cells, it may be possible to detect the emergence of pandemic strains earlier, providing public health officials and vaccine manufacturers with precious time to prepare for a global outbreak of highly pathogenic influenza. To be successful, a virus must be able to recognize and attach to a host cell. But human and avian influenza viruses recognize different cell receptors. Avian flu viruses have demonstrated an ability to evolve to easily infect humans by exchanging genes with human viruses that subsequently permit them to recognize human receptor molecules and gain easy access to cells, typically in the human respiratory system.

... more about:
»Kawaoka »Mutation »avian »flu »pandemic »receptor

The change is thought to occur when human patients are exposed at the same time to a human flu virus and an avian flu virus. Most viruses, including influenza, readily swap genes with one another.

In the new study, conducted by an international team of researchers, the viruses isolated from human patients in Vietnam and Thailand could recognize both human and avian cell receptors. By contrast, the viruses found in chickens and ducks could only recognize the receptors on avian cells.

The work helps flesh out the changes that have occurred in the worrisome strain of avian influenza virus known as H5N1, a strain some fear could be the organism that will trigger a pandemic of virulent human influenza. The avian virus has already changed dramatically from when it was first identified in 1997, says Kawaoka, who also holds an appointment at the University of Tokyo.

"There are big differences between the virus first found in 1997 and the virus we see now," Kawaoka explains. "We are watching this virus turn itself into a human pathogen."

The mutations found by Kawaoka's group have not yet conferred a complete ability on avian flu to easily recognize the topography of human cells, but they are key steps on that pathway. More mutations, says Kawaoka, will be required for the virus to fully adapt to humans, but it is not known how many mutations are needed for such a change.

However, if scientists are able to continue to monitor and secure viral isolates from humans infected with bird flu, they may be able to map a mutation trajectory that will help predict when the avian virus will cross the threshold to become a human pathogen.

The last two flu pandemics in 1957 and 1968 were caused by avian viruses that had accumulated enough genetic mutations to be considered hybrids of animal and human viruses, Kawaoka notes.

Yoshihiro Kawaoka | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vetmed.wisc.edu

Further reports about: Kawaoka Mutation avian flu pandemic receptor

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

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

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>