Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scavenger cells accomplices to viruses

Mucosal epithelia are well-protected against pathogenic germs.

However, individual viruses, such as the HI virus, still manage to enter the body via the mucous membrane somehow. Cell biologists from the University of Zurich have now identified a new infection mechanism, demonstrating that the viruses use the body’s own scavenger cells for the infection. The new findings are important for cancer-gene therapy and the development of anti-viral medication.

Mucosal epithelia do not have any receptors on the outer membrane for the absorption of viruses like hepatitis C, herpes, the adenovirus or polio, and are thus well-protected against pathogenic germs. However, certain viruses, such as the human immunodeficiency virus HIV, still manage to enter the body via the mucous membrane. Just how this infiltration occurs on a molecular level has been a mystery.

Three hypotheses were discussed: firstly, that it’s caused by mechanical damage to the mucous membrane; secondly, the presence of previously unknown receptors on the mucous membrane cells; and, thirdly, that the viruses are smuggled in via a kind of Trojan horse. Now, for the first time, cell biologists from the University of Zurich have succeeded in identifying the infection mechanism for adenoviruses.

In the recently published online magazine Nature Communications, Verena Lütschg and cell biologists from the Institute of Molecular Biology headed by Urs Greber reveal how type-5 adenoviruses in the lung epithelia utilize an immune response triggered by the infection for the progression of the infection: Adenoviruses use scavenger cells and their subsequent production of antiviral cytokines as a door-opener for the infection of the lung epithelial cells.

Exposure of shielded receptors

Antiviral cytokines play a key role in immunological reactions and trigger inflammatory responses, for instance. They induce the epithelial cells to expose certain receptors that are shielded under normal conditions and thus activate immune cells in defense. For healthy people, an infection of the lung with type-5 adenoviruses is harmless as they merely cause a cold. Under very stressful situations or in the case of chronic respiratory diseases, however, adenoviruses can cause severe, acute infections that can sometimes be fatal.

The recently identified infection mechanism can serve as a model for how the pathogens penetrate the mucosal epithelial cells and enter the body. However, it is also crucial from a therapeutic point of view. Type-5 adenoviruses are already used very often as transport vehicles in cancer-gene therapy today. Knowing the transport route will help develop both this gene therapy and specifically acting cancer treatment further.

Verena Lütschg, Karin Boucke, Silvio Hemmi, Urs F. Greber, Chemotactic antiviral cytokines promote infectious apical entry of human adenovirus into polarized epithelial cells, Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1391
Prof. Urs Greber, University of Zurich, Institute of Molecular Biology
Tel. +41 44 635 48 41, E-Mail

Beat Müller | Universität Zürich
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht ‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>