Scientists discover that protein that defends against infections also regulates mitochondrial function

According to a new study published in Nature Communications, a protein, already known because it helps cells defend themselves against viruses, which is part of a group of proteins resistant to mixovirus (myxovirus-resistance, Mx), can also regulate the shape and function of mitochondria, a section of cells that contain the genetic material called “mitochondrial DNA”: this is the discovery made by a team of researchers at the Mayo Clinic.

This protein supports cells to fight infections without the use of antibodies or white blood cells. According to the authors, one of these proteins, MxB, associated with immune responses to HIV and herpes virus, can be considered as the key to mitochondrial support.
The researchers found that MxB is found in most immune tissues, such as tonsils, before a “red alert”.
Without this protein, mitochondria can no longer be functional, no longer produce the necessary energy and expel the DNA genome by rejecting it into the cytoplasm.

Mark McNiven, biologist and author sign of the study, explains the results: “Our work provides new insights into how this dynamic MxB protein helps fight viral infections, which could have important implications for health in the future.
“We were surprised to see MxB present and inside the mitochondria,” says Hong Cao, researcher at the Mayo Clinic and first author. “That it is induced in response to infection and vital to mitochondrial integrity is exciting, considering that HIV and herpes alter mitochondria during infection.”