Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Infecting the Protectors (fluNK)

Influenza (flu) is typically transmitted through the air, infecting lung epithelial cells. Natural Killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes that help protect from flu, especially early after infection, by killing infected cells and secreting cytokines and chemokines that inhibit virus replication. Here, Guo and colleagues ask whether NK might themselves be infected by flu. They confirmed that NK express on their surface sialic acids, which serve as flu receptors by binding hemagluttinin (HA). By microscopy, they examined mice infected with PR8, a strain originating from the human flu virus A/PR/8/34 and detected flu virus protein M2 inside of NK cells within the lungs of infected mice. NK possess several activating receptors including NCR1, NKG2D, Ly49D and inhibiting receptors including NKG2A, Ly49A. Flow cytometry demonstrated that PR8 did not modulate these receptors or developmental markers.
However, infection did alter the effector functions of NK cells. Infected NK cells were less capable of killing cells from 3 target lines, cells susceptible because they either express ligands for NK activating receptors or fail to express ligands for NK inhibiting receptors (Figure 5, shown). EL4 cells express a transfected H60, which binds the activating receptor NKG2D; YAC-1 cells express H60 constitutively, and RMA-S cells express very little HLA class I protein, which binds the inhibitory Ly49 receptors. The authors and others had previously shown
that the 85 kDa subunit of phosphotidyl inositol 3-kinase (PI3K-p85) was critical for NK effector functions, including killing and production of cytokines/chemokines, and that flu NS1 protein interacted with this kinase. Surprisingly, a PR8 virus with a mutated NS1 protein was even more effective in suppressing NK effector functions, leaving the mechanism of inhibition to be determined.
Guo H, Kumar P, Moran TM, Garcia-Sastre A, Zhou Y, Malarkannan S. “The functional impairment of natural killer cells during influenza virus infection.” Immunol Cell Biol. 2009 Sep 1.

1 comment:

Charlie Li said...

I enjoyed this session. I thought that this is certainly an "observational" paper with minimum mechanism studies. The other key issue I had which is in agreement with a lot of attendees is that the authors failed to demonstrate if this is influenza infection-sepcific phenomenon. they should have tried other virus, or even particles as control. In addition, I have not been a big fan for studies using human pathogens "adapted" for annimal studies, simply because there are reasons why they are human-specific pathogens. After in vivo selection from billions of "non-mouse bug" to a "mouse virulent strain", there must have been many changes for the bug after "adaptation" that makes it questionalbe if the results will have any real impact for pathogens which should not work for this animal. Only my 2-cents opinion.
--Charlie Li