Link found between flaviviruses, peroxisome development

Link found between flaviviruses, peroxisome development.
Link found between flaviviruses, peroxisome development. | Courtesy of the University of Alberta
Researchers from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry have discovered a link between flaviviruses and peroxisome production.

According to the study, viruses -- including dengue, West Nile and tick-borne encephalitis -- are capable of carrying out degeneration in the peroxisome developmental protein, Pex19. According to researchers, this indicates that these viruses are inhibiting the immune response of those that are infected.

In their study, the team found that approximately 35 percent of peroxisomes were eliminated in infected cells. Also, production activity for interferon lambda, an antiviral molecule, decreased by approximately 80 percent.

"Interferon lambda is produced by infected cells and has been shown to inhibit replication of multiple viruses," Tom Hobman, the study’s senior author and cell biologist with the university, said. "We hypothesized that loss of peroxisomes results in the loss of the ability of the cells to produce this interferon, which indeed was found to be the case. It looks like the virus may be targeting peroxisomes to prevent antiviral defense by the cell."

Dengue and West Nile viruses both have wide infection areas, with the latter being the most common mosquito-borne illness reported in North America.