Navigation Links
Study reveals H1N1 unexpected weakness
Date:12/10/2009

The H1N1 influenza virus has been keeping a secret that may be the key to defeating it and other flu viruses as well.

Researchers at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) have found what they believe is a weakness in H1N1's method for evading detection by the immune system.

Comparing its genetic sequences going all the way back to the virus's first known appearance in the deadly "Spanish flu" outbreak of 1918, they discovered a previously unrealized role of receptor-binding residues in host evasion, which effectively becomes a bottleneck that keeps the virus in check.

Rice's Jianpeng Ma and graduate student Jun Shen and BCM's Qinghua Wang compared the sequences of more than 300 strains of H1N1 to track its evolution; they reported their results in a recent online edition of the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

The researchers were looking in particular at hemagglutinin (HA), the protein "hook" that allows the virus to attach itself to and infect host cells. It's long been known that five regions of H1N1's HA serve as antigenic sites, the protein fragments that trigger the body's immune system. These antigenic sites, first mapped in 1981, shuffle their amino-acid sequences in the endless cat-and-mouse game that viruses play to survive.

The researchers discovered several key residues involved in both antigenic sites and the receptor-binding site, the part of the protein that attaches to a cell and allows the virus to invade.

The common belief has been that the receptor binding could not change. "The site is known, but no one thought it was involved in the immune system. In order to recognize the receptor, that particular region has to be robust," Ma said. "But it turns out this region is not only variable, but also interacts with the immune system."

For a virus to evade antibodies, all five antigenic sites would have to disguise themselves by mutating. The new finding led the researchers to believe the receptor-binding residues would also have to mutate, but not so much that the binding no longer works. "If the binding is abolished, the virus dies," said Ma, a Rice professor in bioengineering with a joint appointment at BCM.

Such dual-function residues are a likely bottleneck for the virus, he said, because they're under the tightest restrictions. Thus, they could be easier to track over time and may chart a path to predict future mutations that will aid in vaccine design.

"It becomes a weak link and provides us with a window into the virus that we can monitor," Ma said. "The virus's bottleneck is our opportunity."

Wang, an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at BCM who has long studied the structure and function of HA, has been involved in the project since it began and is now working to verify the results in vitro. She hopes confirming the computations will lead to more efficiency in creating vaccines not only for H1N1 but also for other strains of the flu.

"An underlying implication is that this may not be restricted to H1N1," Wang said. "It may apply to other influenza viruses as well. If studying viral evolution can help predict what will cause a severe problem in humans, you can actually pre-stock vaccines, which will save time."


'/>"/>

Contact: David Ruth
druth@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Tropical birds waited for land crossing between North and South America: UBC study
2. Studying hair of ancient Peruvians answers questions about stress
3. Study confirms association between tobacco smoke and behavioral problems in children
4. Study reveals how Arctic food webs affect mercury in polar bears
5. Study finds new relationship between gene duplication and alternative splicing in plants
6. Spices halt growth of breast stem cells, U-M study finds
7. Study shows nearly 1/3 of human genome is involved in gingivitis
8. U-Iowa study helps advance heart-related research
9. Study finds logging effects vary based on a forests history, climate
10. Study shows pine bark improves circulation, swelling and visual acuity in early diabetic retinopathy
11. Clemson researchers receive EPA grant to study carbon emission storage
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Study reveals H1N1 unexpected weakness
(Date:3/17/2016)... , March 17, 2016 ABI ... intelligence, forecasts the global biometrics market will reach ... impressive 118% increase from 2015. Consumer electronics, particularly ... embedded fingerprint sensors anticipated to reach two billion ... Dimitrios Pavlakis , Research Analyst at ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... 11, 2016 http://www.apimages.com ) - --> ... is available at AP Images ( http://www.apimages.com ) - ... used to produce the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be ... CeBIT in Hanover next week.   --> ... be used to produce the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will ...
(Date:3/9/2016)... , March 9, 2016 ... identified that more than 23,000 public service employees either ... been receiving their salary unlawfully.    --> ... government identified that more than 23,000 public service employees ... had been receiving their salary unlawfully.    --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/2/2016)... 2, 2016 Q BioMed Inc. ... partner Mannin Research Inc. will be attending the Association ... place from May 1-5, 2016 in Seattle ... with its vendors and research partners. The meeting provides ... and other collaborative opportunities for the MAN-01 program for ...
(Date:5/2/2016)... ... May 02, 2016 , ... ... the pre-launch success of their revolutionary, veterinarian-designed product for indoor cats. The NoBowl ... and play with their food the way nature intended. NoBowls make cats happy ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... 29, 2016 , ... Amendia, Inc., a leading designer, developer, ... the completion of a significant transaction and partnership that positions Amendia for accelerated ... Kohlberg & Company, L.L.C. (“Kohlberg”), a leading private equity firm specializing in ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Summit for Stem Cell has received a ... a patient-specific stem cell therapy for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The Summit research ... at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, CA. , The aim ...
Breaking Biology Technology: