Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Flu virus wipes out immune system's first responders to establish infection

Date:
October 20, 2013
Source:
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Summary:
Revealing influenza’s truly insidious nature, scientists have discovered that the virus is able to infect its host by first killing off the cells of the immune system that are actually best equipped to neutralize the virus.

Revealing influenza's truly insidious nature, Whitehead Institute scientists have discovered that the virus is able to infect its host by first killing off the cells of the immune system that are actually best equipped to neutralize the virus.

Related Articles


Confronted with a harmful virus, the immune system works to generate cells capable of producing antibodies perfectly suited to bind and disarm the hostile invader. These virus-specific B cells proliferate, secreting the antibodies that slow and eventually eradicate the virus. A population of these cells retains the information needed to neutralize the virus and takes up residence in the lung to ward off secondary infection from re-exposure to the virus via inhalation.

On the surface of these so-called memory B cells are high-affinity virus-specific receptors that bind virus particles to reduce viral spread. While such cells should serve at the body's first line of defense, it turns out that flu virus exploits the specificity of the cells' receptors, using them to gain entry, disrupt antibody production, and ultimately kill the cells. By dispatching its enemies in this fashion, the virus is able to replicate efficiently before the immune system can mount a second wave of defense. This seemingly counter-intuitive pathway to infection is described this week in the journal Nature.

"We can now add this to the growing list of ways that the flu virus has to establish infection," says Joseph Ashour, a co-author of the Nature paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Whitehead Member Hidde Ploegh.

"This is how the virus gains a foothold," adds Ploegh lab postdoc Stephanie Dougan, also a co-author of the study. "The virus targets memory cells in the lung, which allows infection to be established -- even if the immune system has seen this flu before."

Discovering this dynamic of the virus was no small task, in part because virus-specific B cells are found in exceedingly small numbers and are extremely difficult to isolate. To overcome these challenges, Dougan together with students Max Popp and Roos Karssemeijer leveraged a protein-labeling technology developed earlier in the Ploegh lab to attach a fluorescent label to influenza virus, thus identifying flu-specific B cells by their interaction with fluorescent flu micelles. This step was essential because no flu protein can be tagged in the conventional manner with green fluorescent protein (GFP) in the context of an infectious virus. Dougan then introduced the B cells' nuclei into enucleated mouse egg cells via somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) -- a cloning technique she learned in Whitehead Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch's lab -- to generate a line of mice with virus-specific B cells and cell receptors.

Though complicated, the generation of mice with B cells specific for a known pathogen allowed Dougan and Ashour to track the virus's interactions with the cells in unprecedented fashion. Because the infectious process they discovered is likely not exclusive to influenza virus, these scientists believe their approach could have implications for other viruses as well.

"We can now make highly effective immunological models for a variety of pathogens," says Dougan. "This is actually a perfect model for studying memory immune cells."

Adds Ashour: "This is research that could help with rational vaccine design, leading to more effective vaccines for seasonal flu. It might even suggest novel strategies for conferring immunity."

This work is supported by the Cancer Research Institute, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the Human Frontiers Science Program, and the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The original article was written by Matt Fearer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stephanie K. Dougan, Joseph Ashour, Roos A. Karssemeijer, Maximilian W. Popp, Ana M. Avalos, Marta Barisa, Arwen F. Altenburg, Jessica R. Ingram, Juan Jose Cragnolini, Chunguang Guo, Frederick W. Alt, Rudolf Jaenisch, Hidde L. Ploegh. Antigen-specific B-cell receptor sensitizes B cells to infection by influenza virus. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature12637

Cite This Page:

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "Flu virus wipes out immune system's first responders to establish infection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131020160458.htm>.
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. (2013, October 20). Flu virus wipes out immune system's first responders to establish infection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131020160458.htm
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "Flu virus wipes out immune system's first responders to establish infection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131020160458.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
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: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
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


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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