A small Drosophila melanogaster fly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The first moment a virus infects a cell it has to deal with multiple cellular defenses. From surviving highly acidic conditions in endosomes to evading the host enzymes that can digest its very genetic code, an invading virus must navigate and eventually subvert the functions of a host cell. This intricate molecular dance has played out time and again for millions of years and modern science is just beginning to understand and appreciate the intricacy of these steps.
A recent paper published in Nature Immunology suggests that there may be even more steps in the virus-host dance than we had imagined. Outside of science fiction, I would have dismissed this mechanism until I read the paper “RNA-mediated interference and reverst transcription control the persistence of RNA viruses in the insect model Drosophila” by Goic and others (1).
Keep reading to find out more about this new exciting mechanism of viral defense. Continue reading
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It may surprise many of you to know that some vaccines currently being used are actually composed of a living virus that actively replicates in your body in order to generate immunity. I’ve written about one of these live vaccines before on this site: the oral polio vaccine (OPV). These are effective vaccines that mount a long-term adaptive immunity to the pathogen in question. This is done by immune cells that break down the virus and present small parts known as antigens to immature immune cells, which then mature in response to the antigen and are then capable of mounting an immune response to this same challenge in the future.
A recent paper to come out has shown one way that these live but attenuated viruses can be capable of generating such an effective immune response in vivo. Read on to see a potentially novel mechanism in generating an adaptive immune response to cytopathic viruses. Continue reading