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How to develop viruses into anticancer weapons

Viruses have shaped human history through devastating infections. In addition, virus infection may be responsible for up to 15% of cancer deaths. Nevertheless, certain viruses can be our “friends.” At the end of the 18th century, Edward Jenner used cowpox to protect humans against infection with a lethal pathogen, smallpox. Based on the effectiveness...

Life in a small cup of seawater

Microbes, from the smallest viruses to the largest unicellular protists, dominate our oceans, playing a central role in ocean food webs and as key drivers of biogeochemical processes, yet the complex interactions and ecological significance of these relationships within and between biomes are largely unknown. Describing and studying the hosts (prokaryotes...

Collective Infectious Units in Viruses

The spread of viruses among cells, organs, and hosts is often mediated by structures that carry multiple viral genome copies, such as polyploid virions, virion aggregates, occlusion bodies, virus-containing lipid vesicles, and virological synapses. These structures increase the multiplicity of infection, defined as the number of viral genomes that initiate...

KSHV microRNAs

miRNAs play significant roles in different diseases. By binding to target genes, miRNAs post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression. During viral infections, miRNAs manipulate the activities of viruses and host cells. Some viral miRNAs mimic cellular miRNAs, and interfere with cellular activities. Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV)...

How Zika virus crosses the placenta

Zika virus (ZIKV) causes microcephaly, whereas other related pathogenic flaviviruses do not. To reach the fetal brain, a virus must be transported from the maternal to the fetal circulation, which requires crossing of the placental barrier. This study demonstrates that ZIKV, but not two other globally relevant flaviviruses, efficiently infects fetal...

An equal and opposite reaction

Seems like a great idea – the widespread use of insecticide coate bednets to cut the spread of malaria by mosquitoes (mostly active at night). Unfortunately nature is rarely that simple. Widespread use has driven mosquitoes to evolve resistance to the insecticides used. By identifying genetic patterns that predict when and where resistance will evolve,...

Zika virus and interferon

Zika virus cannot replicate in mice – unless you knock out the mouse type I interferon with antibodies. As we know, Zika can replicate all too well in humans, but the pathogenesis and cell tropism of this troubling virus is not well understood. This new paper shows that there are important differences in the original African strains of Zika virus and...

Bacteria – exploring new horizons

Historically, bacteria have been thought of as simple cells whose only aim is to replicate. However, research over the past two decades has revealed that many types of bacteria are able to develop into communities that contain several types of cells, with different cell types performing particular roles. Streptomyces bacteria employ a newly-discovered...

Genetically engineered mosquitos resist dengue fever virus

Dengue has represented a significant public health burden for a number of decades. Given the lack of dengue-specific drugs and limited availability of licensed vaccine, new methods for prevention and control are urgently needed. Researchers investigated whether genetic manipulation of the mosquitoes’ native JAK/STAT pathway-mediated anti-DENV defense...

Siderophores – more than stealing iron

Siderophores are small molecular iron chelators that are produced by microbes and whose most notable function is to sequester iron from the host and provide this essential metal nutrient to microbes. Recent studies have proposed additional, noncanonical roles for siderophores, including the acquisition of noniron metals and modulation of host functions....

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