“No service!” How vaccinia virus jams immune signaling

Negative Stain Electron Microscopy micrographs of MyD88 assemblies in the absence (left) or presence (right) of the Vaccinia Virus immunomodulator A46. (c) Daniel F. Azar, Max Perutz Labs

Viruses depend on their hosts to copy themselves and spread. Upon infection, a virus will hijack the host machinery to replicate its genome, manufacture its proteins and assemble new viral particles. The host in defence deploys its own weapons against the virus in an attempt to combat the infection. This host defence depends on an intricate signaling chain that activates the host’s immune system. One tactic employed by viruses to enhance their replication and thwart the immune reaction is to interfere with this signaling mechanism. New research from the lab of Tim Skern and their collaborators from the University of Queensland (Australia) now shows how the vaccinia virus protein A46 disrupts immune signaling by jamming the cellular transmission chain. The paper is now online in the journal “Structure”.

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