Study identifies enzyme that plays crucial role in resistance to influenza

January 15, 2014, McGill University
This is an image of lung tissue from cIAP2-deficient mice which shows effects on the epithelial cells of influenza infection. Credit: Claudia Champagne, McGill University

(Medical Xpress)—McGill researchers, led by Dr. Maya Saleh of the Department of Medicine, have identified an enzyme, cIAP2 that helps the lungs protect themselves from the flu by giving them the ability to resist tissue damage. "It's a discovery that offers exciting new avenues for controlling influenza, since until now attempts to target the virus itself have proven challenging, especially in the face of emerging new strains of the virus," says Saleh, who is also a researcher at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). "The results from our study now suggest that one effective way of countering influenza infections may instead be offered by enhancing the body's resistance to the virus."

Like many other battles, fighting the flu is a combination of both control and defence. On the one hand, on the control end of the process, our immune system comes into play to prevent the from replicating inside our cells, and attacking with increasing strength. At the same time, on the defensive side, our bodies need to actively resist the destruction and harmful that is caused by the virus.

By investigating the role played by cIAP2 in mice with the H1N1 influenza A virus, what Saleh and her team discovered was that the is necessary to control the nature of cell death during . They found that cIAP2, which functions by modifying and activating survival factors in the cell, steers the body away from an inflammatory and auto-destructive process known as necrotic death. The enzyme is, in effect, a gatekeeper of cell death.

In its absence, the same factors that depend on cIAP2 to keep the cell alive, reveal a destructive side and induce a harmful form of cell death. cIAP2 therefore not only protects the infected cells from dying in such a manner, but also protects uninfected neighbouring cells in the same tissue. By doing so, this enzyme increases the resistance of the lung to infection and associated pathology.

The researchers believe that the identification of this pathway of resistance to flu opens a number of avenues for future drug development. Ian Rodrigue-Gervais is a post-doctoral fellow in Prof. Saleh's lab and one of the authors on the paper. According to him, what is truly exciting about this discovery is that it suggests that it may be possible to suppress features of flu-inflicted tissue injury. "What we saw in this study is that if the enzyme cIAP2 is present, the host can better tolerate the infection and then reduce the illness."

Explore further: Fatty acids could lead to flu drug

More information: 'Cellular inhibitor of apoptosis protein cIAP2 regulates pulmonary tissue necrosis and host survival to influenza A virus infection' by Rodrigue-Gervais et al in Cell Host & Microbe: www.sciencedirect.com/science/ … ii/S1931312813004368

Related Stories

Fatty acids could lead to flu drug

March 7, 2013
Flu viruses are a major cause of death and sickness around the world, and antiviral drugs currently do not protect the most seriously ill patients. A study published March 7th by Cell Press in the journal Cell reveals that ...

A genetic defect protects mice from infection with Influenza viruses

December 5, 2013
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 ...

PDL-1 antibody could help immune system fight off influenza viral infection, study suggests

December 23, 2013
An antibody that blocks a component of a key signaling pathway in the respiratory airways could help the immune system rid the body of the influenza virus, a new study suggests. The findings, from a team at The Research Institute ...

Researchers suggest boosting body's natural flu killers

May 23, 2013
A known difficulty in fighting influenza (flu) is the ability of the flu viruses to mutate and thus evade various medications that were previously found to be effective. Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have ...

New flu drug stops virus in its tracks

February 21, 2013
A new class of influenza drug has been shown effective against drug-resistant strains of the flu virus, according to a study led by University of British Columbia researchers.

Flu and bacteria: Better prognosis for this potentially fatal combination

April 26, 2013
Scientists from the Max F. Perutz Laboratories (MFPL) of the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna have provided insights into how much harm bacteria can cause to the lung of people having the flu. An ...

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

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.