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NUS biophysicists have discovered new conformational changes and structural dynamics of the dengue virus during their transmission to human hosts.
Dengue infection is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. It affects about 400 million people worldwide and is one of the most common mosquito-borne viral diseases in Singapore. Dengue infection can be fatal and there is no effective treatment available. It is transmitted through the bite of the female mosquito and cannot be spread directly from person to person through contact. A mosquito is infected when it feeds on a dengue-infected person and the virus is transmitted to other people when the infected mosquito bites them.
Prof - Thorsten - WOHLAND - Departments - Biological
Prof Thorsten WOHLAND from the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry, NUS and his research team have discovered that the structural dynamics, but not the specific virus morphologies, are correlated to the ability of certain strains of dengue viruses to establish an infection (infectivity). While the structures of the dengue virus change dramatically in the mosquito and human hosts due to temperature differences, neither infectivity nor the structural dynamics of the virus envelope change. The infectivity and structural dynamics of the dengue virus are only affected when it is exposed to fever-like temperatures of 40 degrees C. At 40 degrees C, there is a decrease in virus infectivity by more than three times and a 2.5 times reduction in virus structural dynamics. These findings hold enormous potential for devising new strategies to block dengue infection by targeting the virus structural dynamics.
When the dengue virus enters a human host, there is a change in temperature from about 25 degrees C (inside the mosquito) to 37 degrees C (inside a healthy human) or 40 degrees C (inside a dengue-infected human). This temperature difference causes the dengue virus to "puff" up and to...
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