Uukuniemi virus helps to explain infection mechanism of bunyaviruses

Feb 15, 2008

The Uukuniemi virus is the first bunyavirus whose structure researchers have been able to determine. Together with more detailed studies of the viral membrane proteins, knowledge of the Uukuniemi virus may provide a basis for development of drugs for treating bunyavirus diseases, such as hemorrhagic fever and encephalitis.

A researcher group comprising Juha Huiskonen from the University of Helsinki and structural biologists from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and the Max Planck Biochemistry Institute in Münich has solved the three-dimensional structure of the Uukuniemi virus. The Uukuniemi virus is the first bunyavirus whose structure researchers have been able to determine. Together with more detailed studies of the viral membrane proteins, knowledge of the Uukuniemi virus may provide a basis for development of drugs for treating bunyavirus diseases, such as hemorrhagic fever and encephalitis.

The findings were published in PNAS on 12 February, 2008.

The researchers solved the three-dimensional structure of the virus particle, which is only 0.0001 mm in diameter, using electron tomography and computational methods. The newly determined virus structure also serves as a model for the other bunyaviruses. Recent research surprisingly revealed that the viral membrane proteins protruding as spikes from the Uukuniemi virus surface changed their shape in an acidic environment. This phenomenon is reminiscent of the mechanism whereby influenza and dengue viruses enter their host cells. The observation helps to explain how bunyaviruses infect their host cells.

The Uukuniemi virus was first isolated in the village of Uukuniemi, Finland in the early ’60s. Since then, it has proven to be an excellent model virus. Not being a human pathogen, the Uukuniemi virus is safe to work with, and yet it is very similar to many pathogenic bunyaviruses.

The Bunyaviridae viral family comprises more than 300 members and they are found worldwide. Many members of the family cause serious disease, such as hemorrhagic fever and encephalitis, for which no vaccines are available yet. Most of the bunyaviruses are transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks. The exception is hantaviruses, which belong to the Bunyaviridae family, and which are spread by voles and other rodents.

Source: University of Helsinki

Explore further: Japan lab cannot repeat ground-breaking cell finding: reports

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

People finding their 'waze' to once-hidden streets

13 hours ago

When the people whose houses hug the narrow warren of streets paralleling the busiest urban freeway in America began to see bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling by their homes a year or so ago, they were baffled.

Identity theft victims face months of hassle

13 hours ago

As soon as Mark Kim found out his personal information was compromised in a data breach at Target last year, the 36-year-old tech worker signed up for the retailer's free credit monitoring offer so he would ...

Observers slam 'lackluster' Lima climate deal

14 hours ago

A carbon-curbing deal struck in Lima on Sunday was a watered-down compromise where national intransigence threatened the goal of a pact to save Earth's climate system, green groups said.

Your info has been hacked. Now what do you do?

14 hours ago

Criminals stole personal information from tens of millions of Americans in data breaches this past year. Of those affected, one in three may become victims of identity theft, according to research firm Javelin. ...

New Bond script stolen in Sony hack

14 hours ago

An "early version" of the screenplay for the new James Bond film was the latest victim of a massive hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, its producers said in a statement on their website Sunday.

Ag-tech could change how the world eats

19 hours ago

Investors and entrepreneurs behind some of the world's newest industries have started to put their money and tech talents into farming - the world's oldest industry - with an audacious agenda: to make sure there is enough ...

Recommended for you

'Hairclip' protein mechanism explained

6 hours ago

Research led by the Teichmann group on the Wellcome Genome Campus has identified a fundamental mechanism for controlling protein function. Published in the journal Science, the discovery has wide-ranging implications for bi ...

User comments : 0

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.