Bacterial protein 'mops up' viruses found in contaminated water supplies

Dec 16, 2011

Access to clean water is a necessity often taken for granted. However UNICEF estimates that 900 million people across the world do not have access to safe drinking water. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Biotechnology shows that an enteric virus-binding protein (EVBP), isolated from bacteria found in activated sludge, is able to capture viruses often present in contaminated water.

One of the difficulties in measuring viral contamination in water is that viruses may be present at a very low concentration yet still make people ill. Even a single enteric virus can infect a human and cause gastroenteritis, and these viruses can survive for a long time in water.

Researchers from Tohoku University and Hokkaido University used activated sludge, produced during by aerating the sewage and allowing bacteria to breakdown organic material, as starting material in their search for a protein able to bind to enteric viruses. Using PCR the researchers isolated the for one of the subunits of GroEL from sludge DNA. GroEL is a 14 subunit 'chaperone' protein which ensures that proteins are folded correctly during their manufacture.

Using biochemical and enzymatic assays the subunit was found to be able to capture enteric viruses. GroEL is able to bind to hydrophobic amino acids on the surface of proteins and it is thought that the newly isolated EVBP similarly binds to hydrophobic areas on the surfaces of viruses and viral fragments.

Dr Daisuke Sano from Hokkaido University explained, "Unlike virus-specific and expensive antibodies, EVBP bound all the enteric viruses we tested (norovirus, and poliovirus). Once developed this easy-to-use method could be used to detect low concentrations of viruses in the clinic or environment."

Explore further: York's anti-malarial plant given Chinese approval

More information: Adsorption characteristics of an enteric virus-binding protein to norovirus, rotavirus and poliovirus, Takahiro Imai, Daisuke Sano, Takayuki Miura, Satoshi Okabe, Keishi Wada, Yoshifumi Masago and Tatsuo Omura, BMC Biotechnology (in press)

Related Stories

Professor publishes study on detection of human noroviruses

Oct 28, 2011

Coastal water is subjected to contamination with a wide range of pathogenic microorganisms, which presents a major health risk to recreational water users. The current use of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) as an indicator ...

Raw sewage: Home to millions of undescribed viruses

Oct 03, 2011

Biologists have described only a few thousand different viruses so far, but a new study reveals a vast world of unseen viral diversity that exists right under our noses. A paper to be published Tuesday, October 4 in the online ...

Sea coral hope for fighting gastroenteritis

Oct 17, 2006

A molecule found in coral is effective in fighting the type of virus that causes gastroenteritis, giving hope for the development of better treatments for the illness, according to new research. At present, ...

When viruses infect bacteria

Jun 30, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Viruses are the most abundant parasites on Earth. Well known viruses, such as the flu virus, attack human hosts, while viruses such as the tobacco mosaic virus infect plant hosts.

Recommended for you

York's anti-malarial plant given Chinese approval

Apr 24, 2015

A new hybrid plant used in anti-malarial drug production, developed by scientists at the University of York's Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), is now registered as a new variety in China.

The appeal of being anti-GMO

Apr 24, 2015

A team of Belgian philosophers and plant biotechnologists have turned to cognitive science to explain why opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become so widespread, despite positive contributions ...

Chinese team performs gene editing on human embryo

Apr 23, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers in China has announced that they have performed gene editing on human embryos. In their paper uploaded to the open access site Protein & Cell (after being rejected by Nat ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

DavidMcC
not rated yet Dec 16, 2011
Presumably, they could use the virus binding properties of EVBP to neutralise as well as merely detect the wide range of viruses mentioned. The article

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.