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University of Southern California scientists reveal natural process that blocks viruses
Date:4/17/2013

ron, a protein released by the body's cells and named after its ability to "interfere" with viral replication, can inhibit the spread of viruses, but didn't understand how. The Keck School investigators found that interferon-inducible transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3) can disrupt the interaction between Vesicle-membrane-associated protein (VAPA) and oxysterol-binding protein (OSBP) that regulates the transport and stability of cholesterol, which are required for many viruses to take hold.

One of the main goals of his lab, Jung said, is to understand how the immune system recognizes viruses and blocks entry. In previous research, he and his colleagues have shown that a specific immune protein recognizes genetic information of the virus and then sets off an alarm signal in the host immune system.

Jung explained that in the most recent investigation, the rise in cholesterol was found to occur in the endosome compartment within the cell membrane. "The membrane is usually very flexible," he said. "With an increase in cholesterol it becomes rigid, and doesn't allow viruses to pass through the endosome compartment into cytosol, the fluid portion inside cells. We were surprised to find that changing the balance of cholesterol concentration affects viral entry."

The next step, he said, "will be to identify a therapeutic molecule that activates the expression and function of the IFITM3 protein, which potentially can be used to create an anti-viral therapy. It could target the endosome compartment in order to control, combat, or prevent the spread of viral infection."


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Contact: Leslie Ridgeway
lridgewa@usc.edu
323-442-2823
University of Southern California - Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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