New insight into the never-ending arms-race between viruses and their hosts | 4/19/2018 | Staff
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Viruses have been infecting all forms of life – from single-celled bacteria to humans – for as long as there has been life on Earth. Because of this, ancient mechanisms of virus resistance co-exist in our bodies alongside our more-recently evolved and highly sophisticated adaptive immune system.

Scientists at the Centenary Institute have gained new insight into the never-ending arms race that has been fought against viruses for hundreds of millions of years. The research has been published today in the PNAS journal.

Centenary - DNA - Repair - Group - Dr

Centenary's DNA Repair Group led by Dr. Chris Jolly have discovered that the enzyme SAMHD1 not only limits the supply of nucleotides to viruses inside infected cells, but also limits the supply of nucleotides to our own DNA synthesis enzymes inside B cells when they are responding to infection in other cells or responding to vaccination. This makes DNA repair inside the responding B cells particularly error-prone, ensuring that they rapidly accumulate mutations in their own antibody genes, accelerating the production of highly-protective antibodies.

"To proliferate and cause disease in any organism, viruses need basic DNA building blocks called deoxynucleotides. To minimise virus replication, cells from worms all the way to humans use an ancient enzyme called SAMHD1 to limit deoxynucleotide concentrations to a very low level. This inhibits virus replication. Suppression of deoxyucleotide levels by SAMHD1 is relaxed just sufficiently to allow our own DNA to be copied when we need to produce new cells for tissue growth or repair," says Dr. Jolly.

SAMHJD1 - Enzymes - Cells - Viruses

"As well as using SAMHJD1 and other enzymes inside cells to fight viruses,...
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