Brain Uses Novel RIP3K Signalling to Fight-Off West Nile Virus

Video   May 19, 2017


Insect-transmitted viruses, like Powassan and West Nile, which can attack the brain in some cases, are becoming a growing public health concern. Medical scientists are trying to understand how brain cells try to fend off invading viruses.

Recently they have learned that, in a turnabout, a biochemical self-destruct trigger found in many other types of cells appears to guard the lives of brain cells during infection with West Nile virus. 

As the researchers in this video explain, the self-destruct trigger, a protein called RIPK3 (pronounced rip-3), is better known for activating a certain type of cell death during infection or other damaging events in other parts of the body.  The death of infected cells in this manner is a protective mechanism that helps the body eliminate the infection.

During a West Nile virus infection, however, the activation of RIPK3 in brain cells doesn’t cause them to die. That’s because its signaling within the central nervous system is not the same as in cell types elsewhere in the body. Its brain-specific role implies that there are central nervous system functions for RIPK3 not observed in other tissues.

This article has been republished from materials provided by the University of Washington. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

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