Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

The Way To A Virus' Heart Is Through Its Enzymes

When bluetongue virus enters animal cells, infection is initiated through a process which requires a number of enzymes to work together.
by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Jul 15, 2008
The arrival of bluetongue virus (BTV) in the UK last year posed a major threat to the economy and the increasing temperatures of our changing climate mean it is here to stay. If we are to fight this disease, which has had a major impact on farming already, we must discover how it works.

A review published in the August issue of the Journal of General Virology outlines our current understanding of the "heart" of the virus, which may help us to develop antiviral therapies to treat many human pathogens.

Bluetongue disease is transmitted to ruminant animals like cows when they are bitten by a midge carrying the virus. It is endemic in tropical and subtropical countries and represents a major economic threat in many parts of the world.

Until recently, outbreaks in European countries have been sporadic and relatively rare but since 1998 outbreaks of bluetongue in mainland Europe have been common events, moving steadily northwards. In September 2007 the virus reached the UK where it has become a major threat to farming.

Because of the seriousness of the animal disease caused by bluetongue virus, it has been a subject of intense molecular study for the last three decades and is now one of the best understood viruses at the molecular and structural levels.

"Replication of the viral genome is the 'heart' of a virus," said Professor Polly Roy from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "It is the key process that allows establishment of infection. Understanding the fundamental processes of how bluetongue virus initiates and sustains infection will help us determine the best way to prevent and control bluetongue disease."

When bluetongue virus enters animal cells, infection is initiated through a process which requires a number of enzymes to work together. We know this thanks to a range of research methods including the use of genetically engineered proteins and by looking at the 3D structure of the enzymes.

Now that it is possible to synthesise the structures that allow replication of the virus in the lab, scientists will be able to examine the effects of viral mutations on replication.

Recently a DNA-based system has been developed that will provide breakthrough experimental techniques of relevance to many viruses that infect humans and animals. It will also pave the way for the development of a highly safe and successful vaccine against bluetongue disease.

"Viruses depend on the cells they infect for certain functions that enable them to exist. This dependence limits the number of possible targets for the development of antiviral therapy," said Professor Roy.

"Bluetongue virus uses unique viral enzymes to replicate. At the Roy laboratory we have been using bluetongue as a model system to study detailed molecular processes for many years. This contributes to a better understanding of other similar RNA genome viruses, such as rotavirus, which are also responsible for a large burden of disease in humans."

"The knowledge accumulated through this work will have an impact on the fundamental understanding of the structure-function relationships underpinning bluetongue virus replication," said Professor Roy.

"It will also contribute to the understanding of viral replication in general and help us to understand the very essence of infection process of viruses. Understanding the fundamental biological processes of virus replication is the best route to achieving effective control of the diseases caused by the virus, in a way that is both clinically effective and safe."

Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Society for General Microbiology
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Discovery Of Key Malaria Proteins Could Mean Sticky End For Parasite
London, UK (SPX) Jul 11, 2008
Scientists funded by the Wellcome Trust have identified a key mechanism that enables malaria-infected red blood cells to stick to the walls of blood vessels and avoid being destroyed by the body's immune system. The research, published in the journal Cell, highlights an important potential new target for anti-malarial drugs.

  • Asia sets stage for disaster relief exercise with key powers
  • Exercise For Rapid Disaster Relief Using Space-Based Technologies
  • Disaster deaths worse so far in 2008 than tsunami year: Munich Re
  • Immune Buildings Designed To Combat Chemical Warfare And Diseases

  • CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship Launched
  • In Namibian desert, the heat is on to address climate change
  • Greenland Ice Cores Shows Drastic Climate Change Near End Of Ice Age
  • Schwarzenegger slams Bush administration on global warming

  • Wilkins Ice Shelf Hanging By Its Last Thread
  • India And France Joint Working Group Meet To Discuss Space
  • Raytheon Submits Proposal For NOAA Environmental Satellite Ground Segment
  • NASA Mission To Be Crystal Ball Into Future Of Oceans And Past Seas

  • Russian Pipeline Monopoly Denies Czech Oil Cut Political
  • Iowa State Researchers Study Ground Cover To Reduce Impact Of Biomass Harvest
  • GE Unit Surpasses Four Billion Dollar Renewable Energy Mark
  • Ormat Technologies Secures Contract For Geothermal Power Plant In Turkey

  • The Way To A Virus' Heart Is Through Its Enzymes
  • Discovery Of Key Malaria Proteins Could Mean Sticky End For Parasite
  • Pandemic Mutations In Bird Flu Revealed
  • Researchers Identify Potential Drug Candidates To Combat Bird Flu

  • Incentives For Carbon Sequestration May Not Protect Species
  • Flatfish Fossils Fill In Evolutionary Missing Link
  • Big Brains Arose Twice In Higher Primates
  • Canada rejects Brussels ban on its seal skins

  • Waste Management Offers To Buy Republic For Six Billion Dollars
  • Soot From Ships Worse Than Expected
  • Improving Swine Waste Fertilizer
  • Pesticides Persist In Ground Water

  • Will Our Future Brains Be Smaller
  • Do We Think That Machines Can Think
  • A Microsatellite-Guided Insight Into The Genetic Status Of The Adi Tribe
  • New Map IDs The Core Of The Human Brain

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement