Date Published: 7 January 2011

3D picture of a herpes virus protein developed at Manchester University

Health News from Manchester, England (UK).

Researchers have for the first time developed a 3D picture of a herpes virus protein interacting with a key part of the human cellular machinery, enhancing our understanding of how it hijacks human cells to spread infection.

This discovery uncovers one of the many tactical manoeuvres employed by the herpes virus and opens up new possibilities for stepping in to prevent or treat infection.

The University of Manchester team, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), have used NMR ? a technique related to the one used in MRI body scanners and capable of visualising molecules at the smallest scales ? to produce images of a herpes virus protein interacting with a mouse cellular protein. These images were then used to develop a 3D model of this herpes virus protein interacting with human protein. The research is published in the January edition of PLoS Pathogens.

Lead researcher Dr Alexander Golovanov, from the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre and Faculty of Life Sciences, said:

There are quite a few types of herpes viruses that cause problems as mild as cold sores through to some quite serious illnesses, such as shingles or even cancer. Viruses cannot survive or replicate on their own ? they need the resources and apparatus within a human cell to do so. To prevent or treat diseases caused by viruses we need to know as much as possible about how they do this so that we can spot weak points or take out key tactical manoeuvres.?

The 3D model shows how the viral protein piggybacks on to the molecular machinery components inside human cells, promoting virus replication and spread of infection through the body.

When you look at the image, it's like a backpack on an elephant: the small compact fragment of viral protein fits nicely on the back of the human protein,”said Dr Golovanov.

By studying the images along with biochemical experiments using the human version of the cellular protein, the team has uncovered the mechanism by which the viral and cellular proteins work together to guide the viral genetic material out of the cell's nucleus. Once there, the genetic material can be utilised to make proteins that are used as building blocks for new viruses. The researchers have also confirmed that this relationship between the two proteins exists for related herpes viruses that infect monkeys.

Dr Golovanov added:

Our discovery gives us a whole step more detail on how herpes viruses use the human cell to survive and replicate. This opens up the possibilities for asking new questions about how to prevent or treat the diseases they cause.?

Professor Janet Allen, BBSRC Director of Research, said:

This new research gives us an important piece of the jigsaw for how a particular viral infection works on a molecular level, which is great news. Understanding the relationship between a human, animal or plant ? the host ? and the organisms that cause disease ? pathogens ? is a fundamental step toward successful strategies to minimise the impact of infection.
? To study host-pathogen relationships we have to look in detail at the smallest scale of molecules ? as this study does ? and also right through to the largest scale of how diseases work in whole systems ? a crop disease in the context of a whole area of agricultural land, for example. BBSRC's broad portfolio of research into host-pathogen relationships facilitates this well


Source: Manchester University, England (UK). - Press Release.

Also in the News:

Happier patients lead to better medical outcomes - 6 Jan '11

Increased UK internet searches for flu info on NHS website - 6 Jan '11

Exercise may reduce the risk of death from prostate cancer - 5 Jan '11

UK Animal Charity RSPCA had extremely busy end to 2010 - 5 Jan '11

Violence Re. 1.8 Million Female Infant and Child Deaths in India - 5 Jan '11

Bristol Univ (UK) reports most accurate IVF predictor - 5 Jan '11

Early menstruation linked to risk of depression in mid-teens - 4 Jan '11

Review into (UK) Prosthetics Services - 3 Jan '11

Angels exist in the world of spirit - some describe them as being at a higher vibrational frequency than most humans.

Although care has been taken when compiling this page, the information contained might not be completely up to date. Accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This material is copyright. See terms of use.

IvyRose Holistic 2003-2024.