Nav: Home

Viral communications hacking boosts Leishmania infections

February 07, 2019

New research from McGill University has found that a virus infecting the Leishmania parasite spreads by exploiting a mechanism used for cell-to-cell communication, a discovery that could pave the way to new vaccines against infections that cause severe disfiguration.

Much like animals, viruses evolve to improve their chances of survival. Every year, the influenza virus spreads by changing key proteins on its surface to trick our immune system into thinking that it never encountered the pathogen. The herpes simplex virus, on the other hand, lies hidden in the brain - an area that is off limits to our body's defences - until the next time it is ready to attack.

Martin Olivier, a senior scientist from the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, has recently shown that a virus that infects a primitive type of cell - the Leishmania parasite - also has a ruse to avoid detection.

In a study recently published in Nature Microbiology, Olivier found that the Leishmania RNA virus 1 (LRV1) hides in tiny vessels - known as exosomes - that Leishmania parasites use to "communicate" among themselves.

"This is the first time that a non-enveloped double stranded RNA virus is shown to be capable of exploiting lower eukaryotic exosomes to gain an envelope," says Prof. Olivier, who is also a full Professor of Microbiology and Immunology. "By hiding in these 'communication pods,' the virus is protected from external threats and the infection of other Leishmania cells is facilitated."

Olivier and his colleagues also showed that leishmaniasis cases were significantly more aggressive when parasites were infected with LRV1.

"This provides us with a new model to study virus biology and mechanisms regulating virus release from host cells," Olivier adds. "Ultimately, the use of Leishmania exosomes containing the virus could lead to an effective vaccine against Leishmania viannia guyanensis - a particular strain of Leishmania that causes a with LRV1."

The Leishmania parasite, mostly found in tropical areas, is transmitted by the female sandfly and leads to about 1 million cases of leishmaniasis yearly, killing thousands and leaving many others disfigured.
-end-


McGill University

Related Parasites Articles:

Deciphering plant immunity against parasites
Nematodes are a huge threat to agriculture since they parasitize important crops such as wheat, soybean, and banana; but plants can defend themselves.
Malaria parasites 'walk through walls' to infect humans
Researchers have identified proteins that enable deadly malaria parasites to 'walk through cell walls' -- a superpower that was revealed using the Institute's first insectary to grow human malaria parasites.
Scientists analyze dispersal of parasites by birds in the Americas
An international study investigates transmission of microorganisms that cause malaria and other diseases from migratory to resident avian species.
What's the buzz on bee parasites?
Published today in the open-access journal GigaScience is an article that presents the genome sequence and analysis of the honey bee parasitic mite T. mercedesae.
Major drug initiatives are best way to curb threat from parasites
Large-scale programmes to treat a life-threatening disease could improve the health of millions despite concerns about their long-term effects, a study suggests.
Promoting parasites
Hiroshima University scientists have identified a new species of parasite infecting an invasive freshwater fish on the subtropical island of Okinawa, Japan.
Sunflower pollen protects bees from parasites
Solitary mason bees specializing on sunflower pollen were not attacked by a common brood-parasitic wasp, which lays eggs in the nests, where its larvae kill bee eggs and eat their pollen provisions.
Trouble with parasites? Just migrate!
The researchers developed a model to explore whether combating infection could, in theory, be a potential benefit of migration.
Bird genomes contain 'fossils' of parasites that now infect humans
In rare instances, DNA is known to have jumped from one species to another.
Common pesticides kill amphibian parasites, study finds
A recent study by Jessica Hua, assistant professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University, and colleagues, explored the effects of six commonly used pesticides on two different populations of a widespread parasite of amphibians.

Related Parasites Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".