Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Structure Of Influenza B Virus Protein Gives Clues To Next Pandemic

Date:
October 16, 2007
Source:
Baylor College of Medicine
Summary:
Determining the structure of a protein called hemagglutinin on the surface of influenza B is giving researchers clues as to what kinds of mutations could spark the next flu pandemic.

Determining the structure of a protein called hemagglutinin on the surface of influenza B is giving researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University in Houston clues as to what kinds of mutations could spark the next flu pandemic.

In a new online report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Drs. Qinghua Wang, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at BCM, and Jianpeng Ma, associate professor in the same department and their colleagues describe the actual structure of influenza B virus hemagglutinin and compare it to a similar protein on influenza A virus.

That comparison may be key to understanding the changes that will have to occur before avian flu (which is a form of influenza A virus) mutates to a form that can easily infect humans, said Ma, who holds a joint appointment at Rice. He and Wang have identified a particular residue or portion of the protein that may play a role in how different types of hemagglutinin bind to human cells.

"What would it take for the bird flu to mutate and start killing people" That's the next part of our work," said Ma. Understanding that change may give scientists a handle on how to stymie it.

There are two main forms of influenza virus -- A and B. Influenza B virus infects only people while influenza A infects people and birds. In the past, influenza A has been the source of major worldwide epidemics (called pandemics) of flu that have swept the globe, killing millions of people. The most famous of these was the Pandemic of 1918-1919, which is believed to have killed between 20 and 40 million people worldwide. It killed more people than World War I, which directly preceded it.

The Asian flu pandemic of 1957-1958 is believed to have killed as many as 1.5 million people worldwide, and the so-called Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968-1969 is credited with as many as 1 million deaths. Each scourge was accompanied by a major change in the proteins on the surface of the virus.

Hemagglutinin sits on the membrane or surface of the virus. When it finds a receptor in a cell, it clicks in -- just as a key fits into a lock and enters to infect the cell. The hemagglutinin on influenza B only fits into a receptor on human cells. However, influenza A virus hemagglutinin fits into receptors on human and bird cells. Understanding the differences in the two "keys" may provide a clue as to how the avian flu virus, which infects only bird cells easily now, must change to infect humans easily. Understanding those changes could provide researchers with information about how likely a pandemic of bird flu might be, said Ma.

Others who took part in this work include Xia Tian and Xiaorui Chen, both of BCM. Funding for this work came from the National Institutes of Health and the Welch Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Baylor College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Baylor College of Medicine. "Structure Of Influenza B Virus Protein Gives Clues To Next Pandemic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071015193432.htm>.
Baylor College of Medicine. (2007, October 16). Structure Of Influenza B Virus Protein Gives Clues To Next Pandemic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071015193432.htm
Baylor College of Medicine. "Structure Of Influenza B Virus Protein Gives Clues To Next Pandemic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071015193432.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. 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:
from the past week

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