Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scripps Research scientists reveal key structure from ebola virus

10.12.2009
Breakthrough findings point to targets for drugs and vaccines

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have determined the structure of a critical protein from the Ebola virus, which, though rare, is one of the deadliest viruses on the planet killing between 50 and 90 percent of those infected. Described in the advance, online Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the research reveals how a key component of the Ebola virus, called VP35, blocks the human immune system, allowing the virus uncontrolled replication. The structure represents a major step forward in understanding how the deadly virus works, and may be useful in the development of potential treatments for those infected.

"After infection, the virus and immune system are in a race," said Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., associate professor at Scripps Research, who led the three-year effort to solve the structure. "If the virus can hide its molecular signatures, it can suppress immune responses and replicate unchecked. This new understanding of the mechanism that Ebola virus uses to evade the immune system opens the door for developing drug therapies."

A signature of Ebola virus infection is the presence of the virus's double-stranded RNA, which, when detected by immune system proteins, triggers a full immune response. The new research describes how the VP35 protein of the Ebola virus masks the double-stranded RNA to prevent the immune response.

The protein structure, determined by X-ray crystallography, showed that VP35 binds another copy of itself, and the pair cooperatively masks the RNA ends. Christopher Kimberlin, the first author of this study, explained that this assembly is unusual because each member of the pair binds the RNA in a different way, revealing that VP35 has two unique strategies for masking viral signatures. Importantly, the interface between the two VP35 molecules provides a new target for drugs that would stop Ebola virus infection and allow the immune system to clear the infection. Additional RNA binding, small angle X-ray scattering, and deuterium exchange mass spectrometry experiments confirm the cooperative function of these molecules for immunosuppression.

There is currently no cure for Ebola hemorrhagic fever. The virus is spread when people come into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal. Most die from a combination of dehydration, massive bleeding, and shock. There is currently no vaccine or drug therapy for Ebola infection, but the findings of this study may lead to new treatments.

The article, "Ebolavirus VP35 uses a bimodal strategy to bind dsRNA for innate immune suppression," was authored by Christopher Kimberlin, Zachary Bornholdt, Ian MacRae, and Erica Ollmann Saphire of The Scripps Research Institute in collaboration with Sheng Li and Virgil Woods, Jr. of the University of California San Diego. Support for the research was provided by grants from the National Institutes of Health, a Career Award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations, at the forefront of basic biomedical science that seeks to comprehend the most fundamental processes of life. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases, and synthetic vaccine development. Established in its current configuration in 1961, it employs approximately 3,000 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, scientific and other technicians, doctoral degree graduate students, and administrative and technical support personnel. Scripps Research is headquartered in La Jolla, California. It also includes Scripps Florida, whose researchers focus on basic biomedical science, drug discovery, and technology development.

Note: Video available upon request (Erica@scripps.edu).

A preprint of the article will be available to journalists beginning Wednesday, December 2 on a secure reporters-only website of PNAS.

Keith McKeown | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.scripps.edu

Further reports about: Ebola Ebola virus RNA Saphire VP35 X-ray microscopy immune response immune system virus infection

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>