Researchers have identified the receptor that gives New World haemorrhagic fever arenaviruses their entry point into mammalian cells, a discovery that may aid the development of new therapies.
In a paper published online by Nature, Hyeryun Choe and colleagues demonstrate that transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) is the cellular receptor for four different New World arenaviruses - the Junin, Machupo, Guanarito and Sabia viruses. Treating cultured cells with an antibody against this receptor blocks viral entry and replication.
The transferrin receptor is better known for its role in iron transport - the iron-rich transferrin protein binds and iron becomes transported into the cell. Iron depletion of culture medium enhanced, and iron supplementation decreased, the efficiency of infection by Junin and Machupo viruses. So the study raises the possibility that iron deficiency may be a risk factor for these diseases.
Hyeryun Choe (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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