A virus from the zika which would be responsible for malformations in the brain of newborns was recently discovered by a team of researchers led by scientists from the United States and also part of the Argentine physician Andrea Gamarnik, gives Instituto Leloir Foundation (FIL).
"Our findings provide a possible explanation for the congenital malformations caused by this virus in infants," said Gamarnik, head of the research. Laboratory of Molecular Virology of FIL and Conicet researcher.
In the study, which was published in mid-December in the journal Cells, the researchers elaborated A detailed map of the interactions between Zika virus proteins, human cells and mosquitoes.
They found that a virus protein, called "NS4A" and whose role is to participate in the replication of the viral genome in the cells it infects, "interacts intimately with the Ankle2 protein, present in humans and mosquitoes and plays a very important role in the development of the brain." "We started working on this in 2010 with dengue, when we still did not know that Zika existed, we wanted to understand how the virus used the cells to replicate," recalled Gamarnik.
The expert commented that in general, what was done in this case It was "extrapolate" some of the results of this research to study zika. "Apparently, the Zika virus protein inhibits the Ankle2 function, and this mechanism may be related with the development of microcephaly. It is a highly relevant result because there are previous studies that link a mutation in the ankle gene with hereditary microcephaly and defects in the development of the human brain, "he said.
Flies Vs. humans
To confirm this information, the authors of the study conducted additional experiments using a fly model to demonstrate the change between the proteins that cause microcephaly in flies. "The information that emerges from the studies carried out on these insects is very important to understand what happens in human pathologies: 75% of the genes associated with genetic diseases or cancer have their counterpart in the genome of this fly, whose analogy with humans is very useful, "explained Gamarnik, awarded in 2016 with the International Prize Léo-Unesco" For women in science. "
He continued: "This is a possible cause of microcephaly by Zika, although we do not know if there is only one or is one multifactorial table"
"In any case, our work provides an enormous amount of information that can be applied to the development of antiviral against Zika and also to understand the molecular basis of the pathologies it causes, "emphasized the scientist.
In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the epidemic caused by the Zika virus as a "public health emergency of international concern", especially because a congenital syndrome which includes microcephaly (irregular brain development) and other neurological changes during pregnancy and in newborns.