Researches find similar protein sets across numerous viruses

Biologists from Indiana University and Montana State University announced on Monday that they have discovered similar sets of proteins capable of breaking out of infected cells between certain viruses, such as HIV and Ebola.

HIV and Ebola are both elusive viruses that are capable of hijacking human cells and later breaking out of them. Specifically, the HIV virus works by tricking the antibodies inside the human body into thinking that the virus is a beneficial organism. It then takes over the white blood cells and uses them to attack the body.

The researchers were studying eukaryotes, a group that includes plants and animals, along with archaea, which are micro-organisms that contain no cellular construction. They then looked at STIV, a type of archaea found in hot springs, and found that STIV is similar to viruses that infect humans because it is dependent on its host's Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport machinery to complete its life cycle.

"The new work yields insight into the evolution of the relationship between hosts and viruses and, more importantly, presents us with a new and simple model system to study how viruses can hijack and utilize cellular machineries," Stephen D. Bell, professor in the IU Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry and Department of Biology, said.

The researchers then went on to look for interactions between ESCRT proteins and STIV. They found viral proteins interacted with the ESCRT protein, the same as STIV interacted with ESCRT.

"These parallels support the idea that the cellular ESCRT is ancient and that it is likely to have evolved prior to archaea and eukarya separating to become different domains of life," Bell said.