Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Prions and retroviruses – an unholy alliance?

07.09.2007
Expression of endogenous retroviruses is changed after prion infection

In work originating from the Bavarian Research Cooperation Prions (FORPRION), which ended in 2007, a team led by the scientist Prof. Dr. Christine Leib-Mösch has been able to show that prion proteins may activate endogenous retroviruses in infected brain cells.

In the Institute of Molecular Virology of the GSF – National Research Center for Environment and Health in Neuherberg/Munich (Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres) the group is continuing to search for cellular components whose make-up is changed as a result of a prion infection. In collaboration with colleagues from the Technical University of Munich and the University of Heidelberg, the group used micro-array technologies – micro-arrays are chips with thousands or tens of thousands of DNA or protein probes - and could demonstrate that the expression of endogenous retroviruses is influenced by infectious prion proteins in tests with mouse cells.

Prions – an abbreviation for proteinaceous infectious particles – work as a trigger to a set of diseases of the brain and nervous system, the so-called spongiform encephalopathies. These include BSE in cattle, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt Jakob’s Disease in humans. Prions are structural variants of a normal protein found in healthy tissues – especially in the brain. The devastating effect of infectious prions is that, once they have entered the organism, they can modify the normal "healthy" prion proteins to create more infectious prions, and thus cause the illness to progress. However, as yet, little is known about the molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis, the role of co-factors and the interaction of prion proteins with cellular components.

Retroviruses insert their genetic information into the genome of host cells. In the case of endogenous retroviruses, this involves retroviral infections from long ago, which were transmitted through many generations by means of the germ line. Nearly ten percent of the genome of mice and humans consists of endogenous retroviral sequences that have accumulated during the course of evolution. Indeed, most structural genes of endogenous retroviruses are inactive, but many regulatory elements, such as binding sites for transcription factors, often remain active and can influence neighbouring cellular genes.

The GSF scientists infected mouse neural cells kept in culture with infectious prion proteins and subsequently analysed the expression patterns of endogenous retroviruses. The results showed that the expression of a set of endogenous retroviral sequences is influenced by the prion infection: in comparison with uninfected cells, the expression partly increased but also partly decreased – depending on the cell line and the type of endogenous retroviruses. These effects could be suppressed by pentosan-polysulphate, an anti-prion drug, which means that the influence of the expression can be attributed to the prions and not to some secondary effects.

These observations suggest that prion proteins may stimulate the production of retroviral particles by activation of endogenous retroviruses. Subsequently, these retrovirus-like particles could transport prion proteins from cell to cell, and thus spread the infection.

These studies were carried out within the scope of the “Bavarian Research Cooperation Prions” (FORPRION) in the Association of Bavarian Research Cooperations. FORPRION was founded in 2001 following the appearance of the first BSE cases in Bavaria and was financed equally from the budgets of the Bavarian State Ministry for Science, Research and Art, and the Bavarian State Ministry of Health Food and Consumer Affairs.

Through basic and applied research the consortium aims to make progress in the diagnosis and therapy of human and animal prion diseases, as well as in the field of preventive consumer protection. FORPRION linked up 25 projects, based at five Bavarian universities and in institutes of the Max Planck Society. The financial support of the Bavarian Research Cooperation Prions FORPRION ended in June, 2007.

Michael van den Heuvel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.gsf.de/neu/Aktuelles/Presse/2007/prionen_en.php

Further reports about: Cooperation FORPRION Infection endogenous prion protein prions retroviral retroviruses

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow
25.07.2017 | Rudolf-Virchow-Zentrum für Experimentelle Biomedizin der Universität Würzburg

nachricht Fungi that evolved to eat wood offer new biomass conversion tool
25.07.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>