Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Cutting through mucus with the influenza virus neuraminidase

Neuraminidase is one of three different viral proteins embedded in the lipid membrane of influenza virus (NA is blue in the illustration at left). This enzyme has a clear and proven role in virus release from cells. NA is also believed to be important during virus entry, by degrading the mucus barrier of the respiratory tract and allowing virus to reach cells. This role is supported by the finding that treatment of mucus-covered human airway epithelial cells with the NA inhibitor Tamiflu substantially suppresses the initiation of infection. Further evidence comes from the recent finding that influenza virus binds to sialic acids in mucus and that NA cleaves these sugars to allow infection. Virology BLog, 9 Jan 2014 01:54 by Vincent Racaniello