Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists reveal how deadly ebola virus assembles

Date:
August 15, 2013
Source:
Scripps Research Institute
Summary:
Scientists have discovered the molecular mechanism by which the deadly Ebola virus assembles, providing potential new drug targets. Surprisingly, the study showed that the same molecule that assembles and releases new viruses also rearranges itself into different shapes, with each shape controlling a different step of the virus’s life cycle.

The new study revealed the Ebola VP40 protein assumes different structures to perform multiple roles in the virus’s life cycle—membrane trafficking, virus assembly and control of replication.
Credit: Image by Christina Corbaci, The Scripps Research Institute

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered the molecular mechanism by which the deadly Ebola virus assembles, providing potential new drug targets. Surprisingly, the study showed that the same molecule that assembles and releases new viruses also rearranges itself into different shapes, with each shape controlling a different step of the virus's life cycle.

"Like a 'Transformer', this protein of the Ebola virus adopts different shapes for different functions," said Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbial Science at TSRI. "It revises a central dogma of molecular biology -- that a protein molecule has one shape that predestines one biological function."

The research was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Cell.

"These findings open doors to developing new drugs against Ebola," added Zachary Bornholdt, Ph.D., senior staff scientist and first author of the study. "Drugs to block viral replication could target any of the structures themselves or the intermediate steps in the structural transformation process."

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is one of the most virulent diseases known to humankind. Very few pathogens prove more dangerous than Ebola virus once a person is infected. There is no cure, and the case-fatality rate can be up to 90 percent, depending on which strain is involved.

Ebola virus and its cousin Marburg virus are spread when people come into contact with the bodily fluids of a person or animal who is already infected. Infection causes rapidly progressing high fever, hemorrhage and shock. No drugs or vaccines are yet available for human use. Currently, the standard treatment consists of administering fluids and taking protective measures to ensure containment, such as isolating the patient and washing sheets with bleach.

Once rare, the viruses are now reemerging with increasing frequency, and have caused at least four outbreaks among humans in the last two years. Although the viruses are found most often in Africa, they have been unintentionally imported into the United States and Europe several times, and in recent years a version of the Ebola virus has been found replicating in swine raised for human consumption in Asia.

To conduct the study, Dr. Saphire and her group at TSRI collaborated with Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Ph.D., D.V.M., who holds joint appointments at the University of Wisconsin and University of Tokyo. Dr. Kawaoka's group provided cellular microscopy and critical replication experiments to complement the TSRI team's expertise in x-ray crystallography and protein biochemistry.

The results, five years in the making, revealed the Ebola VP40 protein exists as a dimer, not as a monomer as previously thought, and it rearranges its structure to assemble filaments to build the virus shell or "matrix" to release countless new viruses from infected cells. The study showed the protein also rearranges itself into rings in order to bind RNA and control the internal components of the virus copied inside infected cells.

This "shape-shifting" or "transformer" behavior explains how the Ebola virus can control a multi-step viral lifecycle using only a very limited number of genes.

The research was supported by the Burroughs Welcome Fund, The Skaggs Institute of Chemical Biology at TSRI, the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (numbers R43 AI1088843, 2T32AI007244 and U54 AI057153), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Scripps Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. ZacharyA. Bornholdt, Takeshi Noda, DafnaM. Abelson, Peter Halfmann, MalcolmR. Wood, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, EricaOllmann Saphire. Structural Rearrangement of Ebola Virus VP40 Begets Multiple Functions in the Virus Life Cycle. Cell, 2013; 154 (4): 763 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.07.015

Cite This Page:

Scripps Research Institute. "Scientists reveal how deadly ebola virus assembles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130815133100.htm>.
Scripps Research Institute. (2013, August 15). Scientists reveal how deadly ebola virus assembles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130815133100.htm
Scripps Research Institute. "Scientists reveal how deadly ebola virus assembles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130815133100.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. 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