Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017

HZI researchers have identified a tool used by viruses to shut off the immune response

Bacteria and viruses continuously challenge the immune system. They reach the body by inhalation or via host contact with saliva, blood, or other secretions, but upon entry, the immune system recognises and fights these pathogens through a variety of mechanisms. In most cases, the immune system successfully brings the infection under control and eliminates the pathogen.


Illustration of virus particles.

Pixabay

However, one virus family is superbly adapted to the immune system and cannot be eliminated: the herpesviruses. Infection is for life. A research team at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) has identified a herpesvirus protein that specifically shuts off the immune response, enabling the virus to establish lifelong infection in the body. The results will be published in the journal PLOS Pathogens on 25 May 2017.

Herpesviruses have coexisted with humans for millions of years, and during this time they have developed elegant strategies to escape immune system control. An important representative of the herpesvirus family is cytomegalovirus (CMV) – about half of the German population carries this virus.

“Acute CMV infection of a woman during pregnancy is a huge danger for the infant in the womb. During pregnancy, CMV can be transmitted to the fetus and cause serious and lifelong damage including deafness and microcephaly,” says Prof Melanie Brinkmann, who has led the junior research group “Viral Immune Modulation” at the HZI since 2010. To date, no vaccine against CMV is available, in part because the mechanisms used by this virus to weaken the immune response are not fully understood. “To successfully fight CMV infection, we need a detailed understanding of the switches flipped by this virus to outsmart our immune system,” says Brinkmann.

As part of the Helmholtz Virtual Institute “Viral Strategies of Immune Evasion” (VISTRIE), the Brinkmann research group used an unbiased screen of CMV proteins to identify viral inhibitors of the immune response. They found a poorly characterised CMV protein that is able to incapacitate the antiviral immune response just a few minutes after infection. During infection, this protein, named M35, is introduced directly into a target host cell with the virus particle itself.

In infected cells, it precisely controls the nucleus – the cellular control centre – where it blocks the antiviral immune response. By means of genetically modified viruses the researchers found in mice that the immune system is more adept at controlling CMV infection when M35 is absent from the virus particle.

“Our work shows that immediately after entry in the host species, CMV takes action to mitigate the immune response”, says Melanie Brinkmann. “It is a race against time that CMV unequivocally wins. We have shown that the M35 protein is essential for CMV to win this competition. Thus, it provides a crucial contribution to the strategy used by this virus to establish a lifelong infection in its host.”

In collaboration with researchers at the HZI and the Hannover Medical School (MHH), Brinkmann’s team now plans to further characterise the mechanism of the M35 protein. In the future, specific inhibitors that block the function of M35 may become promising antiviral substances for the treatment of CMV infection.

Original publication:
B. Chan, V. Gonçalves Magalhães, N.A.W. Lemmermann, V. Juranić Lisnić, M. Stempel, K.A. Bussey, E. Reimer, J. Podlech, S. Lienenklaus, M.J. Reddehase, S. Jonjić, M.M. Brinkmann: The murine cytomegalovirus M35 protein antagonizes type I IFN induction downstream of pattern recognition receptors by targeting NF-κB mediated transcription. PLOS Pathogens, 2017, http://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1006382

The press release and a picture are available on our website: https://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/en/news_events/news/view/article/complete/how_herpe...

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research:
Scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany, are engaged in the study of different mechanisms of infection and of the body’s response to infection. Helping to improve the scientific community’s understanding of a given bacterium’s or virus’ pathogenicity is key to developing effective new treatments and vaccines. http://www.helmholtz-hzi.de/en

Contact:
Susanne Thiele, Press Officer
susanne.thiele@helmholtz-hzi.de

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research
Press and Communications
Inhoffenstr. 7
D-38124 Braunschweig
Germany

Phone: +49 531 6181-1404

Susanne Thiele | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The Secret of the Rock Drawings
24.05.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Chemical juggling with three particles
24.05.2019 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New studies increase confidence in NASA's measure of Earth's temperature

A new assessment of NASA's record of global temperatures revealed that the agency's estimate of Earth's long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures.

The most complete assessment ever of statistical uncertainty within the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) data product shows that the annual values...

Im Focus: The geometry of an electron determined for the first time

Physicists at the University of Basel are able to show for the first time how a single electron looks in an artificial atom. A newly developed method enables them to show the probability of an electron being present in a space. This allows improved control of electron spins, which could serve as the smallest information unit in a future quantum computer. The experiments were published in Physical Review Letters and the related theory in Physical Review B.

The spin of an electron is a promising candidate for use as the smallest information unit (qubit) of a quantum computer. Controlling and switching this spin or...

Im Focus: Self-repairing batteries

UTokyo engineers develop a way to create high-capacity long-life batteries

Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...

Im Focus: Quantum Cloud Computing with Self-Check

With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.

Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...

Im Focus: Accelerating quantum technologies with materials processing at the atomic scale

'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.

However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

On Mars, sands shift to a different drum

24.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Piedmont Atlanta first in Georgia to offer new minimally invasive treatment for emphysema

24.05.2019 | Medical Engineering

Chemical juggling with three particles

24.05.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>