Nav: Home

Cells can trap viruses in protein cage to stop their spread, study reveals

June 19, 2018

Researchers at The Francis Crick Institute in London have discovered that cells can trap viruses in a protein cage to stop them from spreading to neighboring cells. The study, which will be published June 19 in the Journal of Cell Biology, reveals that the vaccinia virus can escape this trap by recruiting additional proteins to dismantle the cage and propel the virus out of the cell.

The vaccinia virus usually causes only mild symptoms in healthy adults and, because it is closely related to the smallpox virus, it is a key component of anti-smallpox vaccines. During vaccinia infections, the virus replicates in the cytoplasm of a host cell and then moves along the microtubule cytoskeleton to the plasma membrane, from where it can be released into the surrounding environment. Some of the viral particles remain attached to the plasma membrane and cause the cell's actin cytoskeleton to assemble into "tails" that help the viruses move directly into adjacent cells.

Septins are a family of cytoskeletal proteins that control a variety of cellular processes by assembling into filaments and ring-shaped structures. In contrast to microtubules and actin, septins appear to suppress vaccinia infections, although which stage of the virus' life cycle they affect is unknown.

"We have now found that septins exert their antiviral effect by forming cage-like structures around viral particles to suppress the release of vaccinia virus from infected cells," explains Michael Way, a group leader at The Francis Crick Institute, who performed the work in conjunction with Julia Pfanzelter, also from The Francis Crick Institute, and Serge Mostowy from Imperial College London.

Way and colleagues found that septins assemble around newly formed vaccinia particles soon after they arrive at the plasma membrane. This septin cage inhibits the virus' release and delays the assembly of the actin tail that can help the virus spread to neighboring cells.

The researchers discovered that the vaccinia virus can break out of this trap by recruiting several other host cell proteins. These host factors include a protein called dynamin that, working with actin assembly proteins known as formins, displaces the septin cage by inducing the formation of an actin tail. Inhibiting dynamin or formins prevented vaccinia virus particles from escaping the septin cage.

Septins have previously been shown to form inhibitory cages around bacterial pathogens such as Shigella. "Our study represents the first example where septins play an important, inhibitory role during virus spread," says Way. "It will be interesting to see whether septins also suppress the release of other viruses, such as herpes virus, when they fuse with the plasma membrane."
-end-
Pfanzelter et al., 2018. J. Cell Biol.http://jcb.rupress.org/cgi/doi/10.1083/jcb.201708091?PR

About the Journal of Cell Biology

The Journal of Cell Biology (JCB)features peer-reviewed research on all aspects of cellular structure and function. All editorial decisions are made by research-active scientists in conjunction with in-house scientific editors. JCB makes all of its content free online no later than six months after publication. Established in 1955, JCB is published by The Rockefeller University Press. For more information, visit jcb.org.

Visit our Newsroom, and sign up for a weekly preview of articles to be published. Embargoed media alerts are for journalists only.

Follow JCB on Twitter at @JCellBiol and @RockUPress.

Rockefeller University Press

Related Virus Articles:

Smart virus
HSE University researchers have found microRNA molecules that are potentially capable of repressing the replication of human coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.
COVID-19 - The virus and the vasculature
In severe cases of COVID-19, the infection can lead to obstruction of the blood vessels in the lung, heart and kidneys.
Lab-made virus mimics COVID-19 virus
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have created a virus in the lab that infects cells and interacts with antibodies just like the COVID-19 virus, but lacks the ability to cause severe disease.
Virus prevalence associated with habitat
Levels of virus infection in lobsters seem to be related to habitat and other species, new studies of Caribbean marine protected areas have shown.
Herpes virus decoded
The genome of the herpes simplex virus 1 was decoded using new methods.
A new biosensor for the COVID-19 virus
A team of researchers from Empa, ETH Zurich and Zurich University Hospital has succeeded in developing a novel sensor for detecting the new coronavirus.
How at risk are you of getting a virus on an airplane?
New 'CALM' model on passenger movement developed using Frontera supercomputer.
Virus multiplication in 3D
Vaccinia viruses serve as a vaccine against human smallpox and as the basis of new cancer therapies.
How the Zika virus can spread
The spread of infectious diseases such as Zika depends on many different factors.
Fighting the herpes virus
New insights into preventing herpes infections have been published in Nature Communications.
More Virus News and Virus Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer
With the recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there's been a lot of debate about how much power the Supreme Court should really have. We think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful beings, issuing momentous rulings from on high. But they haven't always been so, you know, supreme. On this episode, we go all the way back to the case that, in a lot of ways, started it all.  Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.