Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Find 'Secret Weapon' Used By SARS Virus

Date:
August 9, 2006
Source:
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Summary:
In a discovery that suggests a possible new route by which scientists might fashion a vaccine against SARS, researchers have discovered one of the weapons the SARS coronavirus uses to sabotage the immune defenses of infected cells.

In 2003, the highly contagious and often-deadly mystery disease now called SARS emerged explosively out of Southern China. It eventually killed an estimated 916 people in Asia, Europe, and North and South America--nearly one in ten of those it infected.

Related Articles


When scientists identified the virus that caused this sudden acute respiratory syndrome, they classified it as a coronavirus--a virus family whose other members cause many common colds. But to there was nothing common about the lethality of SARS; clearly, this coronavirus had some nasty tricks up its sleeve.

Now, in a discovery that suggests a possible new route by which scientists might fashion a vaccine against SARS, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) have uncovered one of those tricks: a "secret weapon" that the SARS coronavirus uses to sabotage the immune defenses of infected cells. Experiments conducted by the UTMB scientists show that a SARS coronavirus protein called "nsp1" causes the breakdown of biochemical messages that normally prompt the production of a protein critical to defending the body against viruses.

"The SARS nsp1 protein degrades the messenger RNA instructions sent from DNA to make interferon beta, which is crucial to host immunity," said UTMB professor of microbiology and immunology Shinji Makino, senior author of a paper on the discovery to be published online the week of August 7 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "This is a very rare phenomenon, and it raises a lot of questions -- among them, whether we can make a mutant form of SARS coronavirus that lacks the ability to degrade messenger RNA, which could ultimately lead to the creation of a live attenuated vaccine for SARS."

Although many viruses interfere with host cells making messenger RNA or translating it into infection-fighting proteins, only one other virus is known to break down messenger RNA: herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Makino credits lead author Wataru Kamitani, a UTMB postdoctoral research fellow, with noticing that the nsp1 protein had an unexpected effect while he was investigating a different set of SARS coronavirus proteins. "He found this suppression of host gene expression, and then he designed several elegant experiments that showed it was caused by RNA degradation, something never before seen in an RNA virus."

Exactly how that degradation takes place, how an RNA virus can preserve its integrity when it makes a protein that breaks down RNA, and whether a mutated non-RNA-degrading SARS coronavirus could constitute a workable SARS vaccine are all issues that Makino's group intends to pursue. "The main concern for everybody is whether SARS will come back," Makino said. "We want to be ready for it if it does."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Researchers Find 'Secret Weapon' Used By SARS Virus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060809082903.htm>.
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. (2006, August 9). Researchers Find 'Secret Weapon' Used By SARS Virus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060809082903.htm
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Researchers Find 'Secret Weapon' Used By SARS Virus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060809082903.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins