A new study by researchers at University of Illinois Chicago suggests that when the protein optineurin, or OPTN, is present in cells it restricts the spread of HSV-1, the herpes simplex virus type 1.
In a “first of its kind” study, researchers also found a potential direct connection between neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), glaucoma, and the herpesvirus, said Dr. Deepak Shukla, the Marion H. Schenk Esq. Professor in Ophthalmology for Research of the Aging Eye, and vice chair for research at UIC.
The research paper, “OPTN is a host intrinsic restriction factor against neuroinvasive HSV-1 infection,” led by Shukla, was published recently in the journal Nature Communications.
Researchers sought to discover why HSV-1 can become fatal for individuals who are immunocompromised but not for healthy individuals. Herpesviruses naturally infect the central nervous system and can result in degenerative brain and eye disorders, as well as encephalitis. However, in most individuals, the virus is suppressed during a primary infection before it can significantly damage the central nervous system.
The new research suggests why HSV-1 is suppressed: OPTN, a conserved autophagy receptor, selectively targets HSV-1 proteins to degradation by autophagy, explained Tejabhiram Yadavalli, a co-author of the study and visiting scholar at UIC’s department of ophthalmology and visual science.
Release date: 13 September 2021
Source: University of Illinois at Chicago