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Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X
SCIENCE NEWS SHORTS | 21
Continued from page 19. This section is for this quarter given over to the Zika feature.
given their structure, the expression level and timing of expression influenced the location of
some of the proteins. Interestingly at high expression levels all Zika proteins formed small
speck-like bundles, some of which resemble a cell structure, called a cytoplasmic puncta. The
scientific literature shows that such puncta are often associated with cellular autophagy when it
is linked to cell or oxidative stress. In their discussion the researchers write,
"Because viral infection of cells could produce both low and high levels of proteins, depending
on the degree of viremia, the formation of these accumulated protein specks potentially could
be relevant to the severity of ZIKV infection."
To gain insight into the impact of Zika viral protein on cell growth and toxicity the researchers
next studied S.Pombe's behaviour as a colony. Seven proteins inhibited colony formation. That
observation led to colony-growth kinetic studies. Of the seven proteins, some were linked to
almost total inhibition, and others to reduced growth.
Drawing on plausible biology and findings in the literature, the study grew more specific in the
questions it asked and answered. Each of their conclusions and observations asks as many
questions as it answers. There is a saying in English, "to open a can of worms". The saying,
means that the answer to an innocently posed question can lead to much more complexity than
the asker bargained for. That is what localising Zika proteins in S.Pombe has done for Zika
viral research. It has opened a can of worms, which is probably exactly what was intended.
Though undertaken with significant medical input and biological plausibility, the PNAS paper is
science, not medicine. It is the cornerstone of the science that medicine is going to need in
understanding Zika virus and its impact on people. Built on a bibliography of 85 science papers
in the high calibre scientific literature, the PNAS paper takes diverse information and filters and
focuses it into an informal "invitation for proposals" across a range of related and inter related
disciplines. As is the case so often in the elite literature of Science, Nature, Cell, PNAS or the
Royal Society journals, this paper is like a watershed. Many primary and separate waterways
flow into this paper, and many might flow out, of which one could be circumscribed by Zika and
its relationship to people and those mosquitoes which spread Zika far and wide.
"These findings should provide a reference for future research on the prevention and treatment
of ZIKV diseases," write Li et al.
The researchers listed on the 3rd January, 2017 paper in PNAS are from the University of
Maryland and the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan. The full name of
S. Pombe is Schizosaccaromyces Pombe.
Be wary of information, even from official sources, about travel and other advice concerning
Zika. Information can change quite quickly. Take a print out of official advice about Zika in the
context of travel and/or pregnancy and check with your doctor.
Continued on page 22 | 21
Issue 1 (Jan-Mar), 2017............................................Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X print and online
Published Friday 24th February, 2017,
nominally.Completed 9th April, 2017.
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