Protein identified that's used by respiratory virus to enter and infect airway cells
Unable to replicate independently, viruses have developed a range of tricks to enter host cells, often hijacking the hosts’ own proteins to let them in. Researchers are exploring how one such pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), gains access to the epithelial cells lining our respiratory tract. By inhibiting over 20,000 genes individually in host cells, then infecting these modified cells with RSV (shown in red, entering cells with nuclei in blue), scientists identified a protein with a big impact on infection: ATP1A1 (in green), part of a critical enzyme transporting ions across cell membranes. Further tests showed that RSV upregulates ATP1A1, and that this protein in turn activates processes critical to RSV entry. Understanding how the virus enters host cells, and how we might block it, could be crucial towards developing treatments tackling RSV, a leading cause of respiratory diseases like pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children.
Written by Emmanuelle Briolat
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.