Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UT professor uncovers clues into how viruses jump from hosts

06.08.2010
Researcher finds that cross-species transmission may have less to do with virus mutation and contact rates and more to do with host similarity

HIV-AIDS. SARS. Ebola. Bird Flu. Swine Flu. Rabies. These are emerging infectious diseases where the viruses have jumped from one animal species into another and now infect humans. This is a phenomenon known as cross-species transmission (CST) and scientists are working to determine what drives it. Gary McCracken, a professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and department head in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is one of those scientists and has made a groundbreaking discovery into how viruses jump from host to host.

His article, "Host Phylogeny Constrains Cross-Species Emergence and Establishments of Rabies Virus in Bats," will appear in the Aug. 6 edition of Science and will be featured on the issue's cover.

It has been a long-held belief that rapid mutation is the main factor that allows viruses to overcome host-specific barriers in cellular, molecular or immunological defenses. Therefore, it has been argued that viruses emerge primarily between species with high contact rates.

McCracken and his colleagues now report that CST may have less to do with virus mutation and contact rates and more to do with host similarity.

"That innate similarity in the defenses of closely related species may favor virus exchange by making it easier for natural selection to favor a virus' ability to infect new hosts," McCracken explained.

McCracken performed his research with former UT Knoxville Ph.D. student Amy Turmelle who now works with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Maarten J. Vonhof, a former post-doctoral scholar at UT Knoxville, who is now with Western Michigan University. Other colleagues include CDC Rabies Team Members Ivan Kuzmin, Charles Rupprecht and Daniel Streicker, who is also with the University of Georgia.

The team made their discovery by analyzing hundreds of rabies viruses in 23 species of bats. In the United States, there are at least 45 different species of bats and many different strains of rabies. Not coincidentally, the CDC collects rabid bats after humans or their pets or livestock may have been exposed to the virus -- adding nearly 2,000 bats annually to its database. McCracken and his colleagues used this database to document the cases in which a rabies virus jumped from one species of bat to another. They verified the cases by genotyping both the viruses and the bats.

The researchers documented over 200 examples of CSTs and analyzed the best explanations for CSTs, such as geographic range, behavior, ecology and genetic relatedness. The study found that the majority of viruses from cross-species infections were tightly nested among genetically similar bat species.

"It turns out, the most important factor in cross-species transmission is how closely related the bat species are," McCracken said. "Our study demonstrates that rapid evolution can be insufficient to overcome phylogenetic barriers at two crucial stages of viral emergence: initial infection and sustained transmission."

This discovery may have significant implications for public health authorities as they try to track where the next infectious disease will emerge. The team's research provides a model for how such diseases transfer from host to host.

"Although CST events are the source of infectious diseases that kill millions of people each year, the natural reservoirs of viruses in wild animals and how they cross species barriers are poorly known and difficult to observe. In this study, rabies in bats serves as a model to understand events that are critical to public health concerns worldwide," McCracken said.

Whitney Holmes | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utk.edu

Further reports about: CDC CST Ebola Flu Outbreak HIV-AIDS SARS Swine flu evolutionary biology infectious disease rabies

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood
23.02.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht New Mechanisms of Gene Inactivation may prevent Aging and Cancer
23.02.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>