Scientists discover how Marburg virus grows in cells

March 13, 2014

A protein that normally protects cells from environmental stresses has been shown to interact Marburg virus VP24, allowing the deadly Marburg virus to live longer and replicate better, according to a cell culture study led by scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The investigators say that deciphering the molecular details of how Marburg virus and the host protein interact may help in developing inhibitors of the virus. Results from the study are published online March 13 in the peer-reviewed journal Cell Reports.

Infections with Marburg lead to death in as many as 90% of those infected. Once restricted to Africa, cases of the virus have been identified in travelers from Europe and the United States, making effective prevention and treatment a top biodefense priority.

"Marburg virus has been essentially untreatable," said the study's senior author, Christopher F. Basler, PhD, Professor of Microbiology, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "Our study shows that Marburg virus VP24 interacts with the host protein Keap1." Dr. Basler explained that Keap1 regulates the antioxidant response, normally protecting cells from harm. When the virus interacts with Keap1, Marburg virus-infected cells survive longer, facilitating virus growth.

The research builds on previous research in Dr. Basler's lab. Studying Ebola virus, they found that Ebola virus VP24 protein blocks interferon, an important part of the host defense against virus detection. Unlike Ebola virus, a different host protein was shown to interact with Marburg virus.

"If we can develop inhibitors, the virus will die and replicate more slowly – that's the hypothesis that we have now," said Dr. Basler. Next, his laboratory hopes to pursue research and development of targeted therapies.

Explore further: Researchers identify vulnerabilities of the deadly Ebola virus

Related Stories

Research team identifies receptor for Ebola virus

May 2, 2011

A team of researchers has identified a cellular protein that acts as a receptor for Ebola virus and Marburg virus. Furthermore, the team showed that an antibody, which binds to the receptor protein, is able to block infection ...

Recommended for you

Artificial beta cells

December 8, 2016

Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.

Key regulator of bone development identified

December 8, 2016

Loss of a key protein leads to defects in skeletal development including reduced bone density and a shortening of the fingers and toes—a condition known as brachydactyly. The discovery was made by researchers at Penn State ...

Researchers question lifelong immunity to toxoplasmosis

December 8, 2016

Medical students are taught that once infected with Toxoplasma gondii—the "cat parasite"—then you're protected from reinfection for the rest of your life. This dogma should be questioned, argue researchers in an Opinion ...

TET proteins drive early neurogenesis

December 7, 2016

The fate of stem cells is determined by series of choices that sequentially narrow their available options until stem cells' offspring have found their station and purpose in the body. Their decisions are guided in part by ...

0 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.