What is it about?

Influenza viruses use their surface spines (hemagglutinins) to attach to cells and fuse themselves to the cell's membrane to initiate infection. However, the hemagglutinin needs the support of the enzymes (proteolytic enzymes) of the cell it is infecting in order to achieve its ability. This has been known for more than several decades, but it was not known which enzyme was used. In this study, the researchers have finally succeeded in identifying the enzyme. The enzyme is TMPRSS2.

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Why is it important?

The principle that the virus uses the proteolytic enzymes of the host animals (host cells) to be infected had already been established. However, the most important piece of the puzzle, what the enzymes used are, had not been clarified. This research has brought this principle closer to completion.


The discovery of one of the key parts of the infection mechanism of the influenza virus has advanced our understanding of the pathogenesis of influenza and paved the way for the development of new treatments.

Dr Makoto Takeda
National Institute of Infectious Diseases

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This page is a summary of: The Host Protease TMPRSS2 Plays a Major Role in In Vivo Replication of Emerging H7N9 and Seasonal Influenza Viruses, Journal of Virology, March 2014, ASM Journals, DOI: 10.1128/jvi.03677-13.
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