MIT researchers discover bacteria’s new antiviral defense system
Prokaryotic proteins can detect viruses in an unexpectedly direct way.
The bacteria use different defense strategies against viral infections. Human STAND ATPases are known to induce programmed cell deaths in cells infected by bacterial infection. Scientists believe that in the near future, many new antiviral weapons in the world of microbes will be discovered. Scientists discovered an unexplored defense system for bacteria.
Researchers have discovered specific proteins found in prokaryotes, which detect viruses in an unexpectedly direct way. They recognize critical parts of viruses, and cause the single-celled organisms that they are infected with to commit suicide.
A team of scientists, led by researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard and McGovern Institute for brain research at MIT, made the discovery.
This work demonstrates a remarkable unification in the way pattern recognition occurs between very different organisms, said Feng Zhang. Senior author and James and Patricia Poitras professor of Neuroscience at MIT.
It was exciting to combine genetics, structural biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics in one study.
The bacteria use different defense strategies against viral infections. Some of these systems led to the development of groundbreaking technologies such as CRISPR gene editing.
This is the first study to demonstrate that organisms from all three domains — bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes, which includes plants and animals — recognize patterns in conserved viral proteins when defending against pathogens.
Pathogens are organisms that cause disease.
Researchers at MIT have discovered specific proteins found in prokaryotes, which are bacteria and archaea that can detect viruses in an unexpectedly direct way.