Two new targets have been discovered for antiviral therapies and vaccines strategies that could enhance the body's defenses against such infectious diseases as West Nile and hepatitis C. The targets are within the infection warning system inside living cells.
No vaccines exist for the viruses that cause West Nile or hepatitis C. New therapies are urgently needed to prevent and treat serious infections by these and related viruses.
The University of Washington is engaged in a major, multipronged effort to design therapeutics that harness the warning signals the body produces when viruses attack. Such therapies would prod people's cells into launching a stronger counterattack to control infections by elusive viruses.
UW specialists in how the body fends off viral diseases are studying pattern recognition molecules, called RIG-I-like receptors, found inside living cells. When these receptors detect virus invasions, they call in the immune system to fight infection.
Scientists in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Gale, Jr., UW professor of immunology, observed an interaction between these molecular dispatchers and a protein called 14-3-3 epsilon This protein acts a docking station where other proteins can gather. There they can more efficiently send out signals in response to threats.
The researchers noticed that the interaction between the alert trigger (RIG-I) and the docking station (14-3-3 epsilon) steps up when cells were infected with virus. The agitation prompts RIG-I to work with other proteins, such as TRIM25. Those proteins are essential for RIG-I to warn the immune system to respond to a virus intruder.
"Our work also demonstrated that RIG-I binding to 14-3-3 epsilon is important for RIG-I to move from within the cell where it detects viral RNA to a location on the cell's membrane where the cell's antiviral defenses can be activated," said Dr. Helene Liu, a postdoctoral fellow who led the study. The move is somewhat like running from the inner corridors of a building to a window to call for help.
"By understanding the molecular partners and location changes that RIG-I requires to convey its signal that virus is present in a cell, we can start to design therapeutics that can trigger this process to kick-off an antiviral immune response and fight virus infection," Liu said.
The scientists reported these initial findings in the May 17 issue of Cell Host & Microbe. The Gale laboratory reports additional observations on the RIG-I-like receptors in the August issue of Immunity, published online July 26.
Postdoctoral fellows Dr. Mehul Suthar and Dr. Hilario Ramos found that, during West Nile virus infection, an RIG-I like receptor called LGP2 promotes the survival and activity of CD8+ T white blood cells, commonly called killer T cells. These disease-fighters eliminate virus-infected cells from the body.
"By increasing the ability and length of time CD8+T cells can work within the body when West Nile virus is present, the immune system is strengthened and has a better chance of eliminating the virus," Suthar commented. Ramos added, "Based on this work, we can consider new ways to boost vaccine effectiveness through design of adjuvants or immune-stimulants. These might be applied within a vaccine approach to regulate LGP2 to enhance immunity to infection."
Gale directed the research effort for both projects. He heads the Center for Study of Innate Immunity to Hepatitis C Virus and the Center for Immune Mechanisms of Flavivirus Control, as well as two National Institutes of Health-funded multi-million dollar programs to develop new antiviral therapies and vaccine adjuvants.
"These two new discoveries," Gale said, "greatly advance our knowledge of how the body senses and responds to virus infection and provide us with new avenues to explore when designing antiviral therapies and new vaccines.
"West Nile virus is an emerging virus that has spread across the United States, and hepatitis C virus infects over 170 million people globally. Both viruses are devastating to the health of the individuals they infect. That is why the development of new clinical resources such as vaccines and antivirals for each is so critical."
West Nile virus is spreading throughout North America through infected mosquitoes. It can cause paralysis and death in people. Hepatitis C virus is transmitted through contact with blood or blood products containing the virus. It causes swelling and inflammation of the liver.
Most hepatitis C infections are persistent because the virus evades the immune defenses that normally limit the course of disease. The virus generates a chronic liver inflammation which scars the organ's tissues. The scarring can lead to liver failure and increases the risk of liver cancer. While therapies are available to treat hepatitis C infections, these treatments have harsh side-effects and are not effective in all people. No antiviral therapies are available to treat people infected with West Nile virus.
The work that led to the recent discoveries in the Gale laboratory was funded by grants from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health to study the body's immune responses to hepatitis C and West Nile virus infections.
Leila Gray | EurekAlert!
Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour
24.05.2018 | Arizona State University
3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences