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Researchers Observe How Cells Protect Themselves from Viruses

A protein known to assist cells in protecting against infection regulates the form and function of mitochondria, based on a recent paper in Nature Communications.

Researchers Observe How Cells Protect Themselves from Viruses

The protein, one of a group called myxovirus-resistance (Mx) proteins, help cells fight infections without the usage of systemic antibodies or white blood cells. The authors say that MxB, which is associated with an immune response to HIV and herpes virus, is crucial to mitochondrial assist.

In response to infection, a cell releases interferon and neighboring cells increase Mx protein production. The authors replicated earlier observations that MxB blocks nuclear pores and MxB will increase markedly when cells are treated with interferon. However, they also exhibit that some MxB is present in most immune tissues, such as tonsil, before a “red alert” and that it has another task.

The authors report, MxB dynamically condenses, dissolves and reforms over time, and traced MxB’s transfers to the nuclear pores, in addition to the tips and mitochondria. Additionally, they present, through a cell line that can’t create MxB in response to interferon, that mitochondrial cristae are affected by MxB, as well.

The work of Dr. Cao and the team develops on the observations of mitochondrial investigators at Mayo.

The next steps, Dr. McNiven says, are to continue to probe how MxB is targeted to and internalized by mitochondria, and how its association triggers such severe changes to the biology of organelle.

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