New findings could influence the development of therapies to treat dengue disease

New research into the fight against Dengue, an insect-borne tropical disease that infects up to 390 million people worldwide annually, may influence the development of anti-viral therapies that are effective against all four types of the virus.

The findings, led by researchers at the University of Bristol and published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry today [2 August], show for the first time that there may be significant differences in specific properties of the for the four dengue virus types.

Due to the effects of globalisation, including increased travel and urbanisation of and the expanded geographical distribution of the mosquito vector that is responsible for the transmission of viral infections to millions of people, the number of individuals afflicted with dengue is rising.

Infection with any one of the four types of dengue virus (DENV types 1 - 4) may result in a spectrum of illnesses ranging from dengue fever, a mild flu like illness which causes and joint pains, to the potentially fatal dengue haemorrhagic fever. Despite intensive research, dengue disease is not wholly understood, and there are no vaccines or anti-viral treatments available that can safely or effectively control the disease.

Dr Andrew Davidson, Senior Virologist and lead researcher from the University of Bristol, and colleagues examined the nuclear localisation properties of the NS5 protein of all four DENV types and found that there are major differences in the cellular localisation of the viral NS5 protein for the four DENV types.

The four types of DENV are genetically distinct. Although they can all cause dengue disease, little is known about how the between them may translate into differences in and pathogenesis.

Previous studies by the team focusing on DENV-2, have shown that the viral NS5 protein is essential for DENV genome replication and is able to modulate the host immune response. As such, the NS5 protein is a key target for the development of anti-viral agents. Importantly, the team also showed that the DENV-2 NS5 protein accumulates in the nucleus during infection which is believed to effect host cell function.

Dr Davidson, Senior Lecturer in Virology, School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol, said: "The study shows for the first time that there may be significant differences in specific properties of the viral proteins for the four DENV types. This is important as it impacts on our understanding of viral replication and pathogenesis and the design of anti-viral therapies that are effective against all DENV types."

Present studies in the laboratory are focused on comprehensively comparing the effects of different DENV types on the host cell, using the state-of-the-art proteomics facilities at the University of Bristol.

More information: The paper, entitled 'Serotype-specific Differences in Dengue Virus Non-structural Protein 5 Nuclear Localization' is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 288, Issue 31, 22621-22635, August 2, 2013.

Related Stories

Gene interplay helps to explain dengue's spread

Jul 31, 2013

Complex genetic interaction between the mosquito and the virus that causes dengue fever lie at the spread of this dangerous disease, a study by French and Thai scientists said Thursday.

Scientists make dengue vaccine breakthrough

Sep 10, 2012

Dengue is one of the most widespread mosquito-borne viral diseases in the world, with WHO estimating that around half of the world's population are currently at risk. While infection usually causes flu-like symptoms, it can ...

Recommended for you

Stroke damage mechanism identified

16 hours ago

Researchers have discovered a mechanism linked to the brain damage often suffered by stroke victims—and are now searching for drugs to block it.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.