Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Resistant against the flu

Date:
December 5, 2013
Source:
Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research
Summary:
A new study published points out that mice lacking a protein called Tmprss2 are no longer affected by certain flu viruses.

Influenza virus, magnified by electron microscopy
Credit: © HZI / Rohde

A new study published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens points out that mice lacking a protein called Tmprss2 are no longer affected by certain flu viruses. The discovery was made by researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig in collaboration with colleagues from Gφttingen and Seattle.

Whether it is H1N1, H5N1 or H7N9: The flu virus influenza A exists in many different types as its two coating proteins haemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) can be combined in various ways. Theoretically, more than 100 different pairings are possible. Additionally, the coating proteins themselves can undergo changes. This variability is one of the reasons why the flu vaccination has to be renewed every year.

The virus uses haemagglutinin as a key to enter the host cell which is then captured to build new virus particles. To reach its final shape, the coating protein has to be cleaved by a molecular scissor. This is done by an enzyme of the infected host. Otherwise, the protein is not functional and the virus particles are not infectious. A variety of host enzymes, so-called proteases, that process the haemagglutinin have been identified using cell cultures.

Scientists from the HZI have now been able to show how important those enzymes are for the progression of the infection. Mice with a mutation in the gene for the protease Tmprss2 do not become infected by flu viruses containing haemagglutinin type H1. They are resistant against H1N1, the pathogen responsible for seasonal influenza epidemics, the "swine flu" and the "Spanish flu," which caused an epidemic in 1918. "These mice do not lose weight and their lungs are almost not impacted," says Professor Klaus Schughart, head of the Department "Infection Genetics" at the HZI. "Even though the virus still multiplies no active viral particles are formed which would infect the neighbouring cells." The infection is quickly terminated.

As the protease Tmprrs2 is a host factor it is an ideal intervention point for new drugs. So far, treatments, such as the well-known Tamiflu, attack parts of the virus. They have decisive disadvantages: The virus can become resistant and the therapy no longer takes effect. This problem does not occur when the medication intervenes with the metabolism of the patient. Furthermore, the mice Schughart and his team examined did not show any abnormalities. "We did not observe an obvious varied phenotype in these mice. They were neither impaired in their behaviour nor in their life expectancy. Presumably because other proteins are compensating for the lack of Tmprss2," says Dr Bastian Hatesuer, one of the scientists involved in the project. Blocking Tmprss2 for a short period could be a new therapeutic option as no strong side effects are expected.

Even though a drug like this is still a long way off, the observation is important for another reason: "Until now the dependence of virus production on proteases had only be demonstrated in cell cultures," says Schughart. "We are the first to show this in a living organism."

It is likely that there are humans having the same defect as the mice and who therefore may be resistant against specific flu viruses. This, however, remains unnoticed. "Because they don't get sick, they don't go to see a doctor," says Hatesuer. "Thus, they don't know that they are resistant."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Bastian Hatesuer, Stephanie Bertram, Nora Mehnert, Mahmoud M. Bahgat, Peter S. Nelson, Stefan Pφhlman, Klaus Schughart. Tmprss2 Is Essential for Influenza H1N1 Virus Pathogenesis in Mice. PLoS Pathogens, 2013; 9 (12): e1003774 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003774

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research. "Resistant against the flu." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205185607.htm>.
Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research. (2013, December 5). Resistant against the flu. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205185607.htm
Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research. "Resistant against the flu." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131205185607.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) — Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
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