A crucial insight into how the Ebola virus evades our immune defenses


An electron micrograph scanning the Ebola virus in an outbreak of a cell (epithelial cell line of the African green monkey kidney). Credit: NIAID

Researchers at Monash University, Australia, have discovered a key way to evade the immune system by one of the world’s deadliest pathogens, the Ebola virus.

Understanding this process provides potential new targets for the future development of antiviral therapies for a disease that killed more than 11,000 people in an outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2016, with mortality rates in shoots passed from 25% to 90%.

An Ebola outbreak, for which treatment options are extremely limited, occurred earlier this year in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As with viruses such as the Hendra virus and rabies, Ebola infects humans from animals, with bats believed to be natural hosts.

The research team, led by Dr. Greg Moseley and Dr. Angela Harrison, of the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University, in collaboration with researchers from the Australian Center for Disease Preparation (ACDP, CSIRO) , found that the Ebola virus can block the function of the STAT3 protein, a critical “messenger” protein that transmits signals within our important cells to regulate immunity and host disease against infections.

It is important to note that, through pathogenic virus infections below the highest level of biocontainment (BSL4) along with gene expression analysis and quantitative imaging of individual cells, the research team has found that STAT3 activity is antiviral. against the Ebola virus, but that the Ebola virus uses a protein called VP24 to target and disable the messaging function of STAT3 using at least two different strategies, including binding to STAT3 protein complexes.

The findings were published today in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

Elucidating this completely new form of the Ebola virus to disarm immune responses may provide new targets that can be used in research toward the development of new antivirals that prevent the Ebola virus and possibly other viruses. interfere with the antiviral system of the infected person, allowing according to Dr. Moseley, to fight the disease. “This shows us that the Ebola virus uses more tricks to circumvent and deregulate the virus than we thought earlier, and highlights the growing importance of STAT3 segmentation by viruses. Understanding this process provides us with new potential targets that could contribute to the development of therapies that block the ability of Ebola and other viruses to stop the immune response, ”he said.

It is important to note that the STAT3 pathway is also involved in the pathogenesis of many other diseases, including cancers. Dr. Moseley believes he understands how Ebola works and other viruses specifically targeted and modified by STAT3 could also provide new directions for the development of therapeutic products for diseases such as cancer.

Why does Ebola not cause diseases in bats, as in humans?

More information:
DOI: 10.1371 / journal.ppat.1009636 Antagonism of STAT3 signaling by the Ebola virus, PLOS Pathogens (2021).

Provided by
Monash University

Citation: Discovered: Crucial information on how the Ebola virus eludes our immune defenses (2021, June 24) recovered on June 24, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-uncovered-crucial -insight-ebola-virus.html

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