Cells unwillingly support viruses through cell entry
The adenoviruses, which cause a multitude of illnesses like respiratory and eye infections, use the lipids to attack the cells. Lipids are typically used in the repair process of damaged membranes. The virus’s penetration into the body’s cells is a crucial step for genetic delivery, which is why adenoviruses are often used in gene therapies.
"Our results are potentially interesting for the development of new anti-viral agents, and they increase our understanding in how the adenovirus works in vaccination and gene therapy,” Urs Greber, a professor at the Institute of Molecular Life Sciences at the University of Zurich, said.
Intact cell membranes are important for the cell’s ability to function. External membranes can be damaged, causing small pores, which the adenoviruses use to invade the cell.
"We have identified particular cellular lipids as key components for the virus to enter into cells, which is surprising as lipids have important roles in biology, but these roles are difficult to identify," Stefania Luisoni, the first author on the study and a doctoral student at the Institute of Molecular Life Sciences, said.
This discovery could help researchers develop better diagnoses and treatments for adenoviruses.