Science Bites: September 12th

Science Bites: September 12th

Mosquito saliva protein inhibits dengue transmission

A protein in mosquito saliva reduces dengue virus transmission, according to new research. Many components of mosquito saliva dampen the host immune response and facilitate infection. Now, researchers have found one protein, D7, that binds to the dengue virus and inhibits its transmission to human and mouse cells. The anti-D7 antibodies ordinarily produced by the immune systems of individuals exposed to mosquitoes might therefore act unhelpfully, enhancing disease transmission and severity. This could impact development of dengue therapies and vaccines.

 

Social rank may affect diet of male bonobos

Bonobos’ diets may vary with social rank in males and with the phases of reproduction in females, according to researchers who analyzed stable nitrogen and carbon isotopes in hair collected from 23 bonobos over two years. They found that samples from low-ranking adolescent bonobos had lower nitrogen isotope levels than those from higher-ranking males, who likely got more meat when sharing food. They also noted that nitrogen and carbon levels differed in female bonobos according to whether they were cycling, pregnant, or lactating, likely reflecting changing dietary needs.

 

Progesterone-based therapy protects against influenza

Progesterone-containing contraceptives are known to affect immunity in the reproductive tract, but their impact on viral infections elsewhere in the body is less understood. A new study found that giving progesterone to progesterone-depleted mice protected against influenza by prompting lung cells to produce a protein called amphiregulin. This reduced lung inflammation, repaired damaged tissue and promoted faster recovery. The results demonstrate that progesterone may have significant health effects beyond the reproductive tract.

Image credit: Niina Nurmi and the LuiKotale Bonobo Project

Author

Beth works at PLOS as Journal Media Manager. She read Natural Sciences, specializing in Pathology, at the University of Cambridge before joining PLOS in 2013. She feels fortunate to be able to read and write about the exciting new research published by PLOS.

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