Surf's up for viruses

In membrane studies, pictures say thousands of words. Wednesday, the closing day of the Keystone symposium on the molecular basis for biological membrane organization, I watched a talk that contained millions of words worth of compelling images. In his presentation on retroviral transmission from infected cells to uninfected cells, linkurl:Walther Mothes;http://www.med.yale.edu/micropath/fac_mothes.html of The Yale University School of Medicine featured several time-lapse movies of viruses "sur

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Jan 17, 2008
In membrane studies, pictures say thousands of words. Wednesday, the closing day of the Keystone symposium on the molecular basis for biological membrane organization, I watched a talk that contained millions of words worth of compelling images. In his presentation on retroviral transmission from infected cells to uninfected cells, linkurl:Walther Mothes;http://www.med.yale.edu/micropath/fac_mothes.html of The Yale University School of Medicine featured several time-lapse movies of viruses "surfing" along filamentous membrane projections, called filopodial bridges. Along with 90 or so scientists in the audience, I watched as filopodia grew from live, uninfected cells, reaching out and contacting infected cells. Then fluorescently labeled murine leukemia virus (MLV) particles scuttled along the thin finger-like projections and penetrated host cells. You can watch the movies linkurl:here.;http://www.nature.com/ncb/journal/v9/n3/suppinfo/ncb1544_S1.html __The Scientist__ linkurl:reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/templates/trackable/display/news.jsp?type=news&o_url=news/display/52503&id=52503 Mothes' original findings last year when they were published, but in his Keystone talk he presented some new nuggets of information. Since discovering the mechanism for viral...
ane organization, I watched a talk that contained millions of words worth of compelling images. In his presentation on retroviral transmission from infected cells to uninfected cells, linkurl:Walther Mothes;http://www.med.yale.edu/micropath/fac_mothes.html of The Yale University School of Medicine featured several time-lapse movies of viruses "surfing" along filamentous membrane projections, called filopodial bridges. Along with 90 or so scientists in the audience, I watched as filopodia grew from live, uninfected cells, reaching out and contacting infected cells. Then fluorescently labeled murine leukemia virus (MLV) particles scuttled along the thin finger-like projections and penetrated host cells. You can watch the movies linkurl:here.;http://www.nature.com/ncb/journal/v9/n3/suppinfo/ncb1544_S1.html __The Scientist__ linkurl:reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/templates/trackable/display/news.jsp?type=news&o_url=news/display/52503&id=52503 Mothes' original findings last year when they were published, but in his Keystone talk he presented some new nuggets of information. Since discovering the mechanism for viral particle transport along filopodial bridges, Mothes has found that this mode of transmission is not only __a__ way for MLV to move from infected to healthy fibroblasts, but the dominant mode of infection (others include syncytial contact and tight junctions). He also found that viral assembly increases markedly at the point of contact between filopodia reaching out from healthy cells and the plasma membrane of infected cells. Mothes also suggested a model of filopodia down-regulation involving the receptors that localize to the tips of these structures. This unique model is biologically important, he said, because if the filopodial bridge and subsequent viral transfer is maintained for too long a time, target cells would receive too much virus and die before infecting more cells. He suggested that understanding this mode of transmission could be important in characterizing the transmission of other retroviruses.

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