Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Signal Interference

Insight into the molecular mechanisms involved in viral infection

02 January 2022

Signal Interference

A savvy car thief might disable the GPS system before speeding off to avoid sending any signals that reveal their whereabouts. Viruses infecting cells have a similar trick, undermining fundamental signalling processes in cells as they take the wheel. To understand this hijacking, researchers investigated signalling involving lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) after parapoxvirus infection (a virus common in animals that can transmit to humans). LPA signalling and its receptors are involved in everything from cell growth to immune activity and wound healing. They discovered that a particular protein, ORFV113 (green in the microscope image of a sheep skin section), directly interacted with the receptor LPA1 (pink). The knock-on effects of this are key to the infection development. When researchers eradicated the protein, virus levels dropped and no visible skin damage formed, showing the importance of this process and pointing to a possible opportunity to take back control.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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