Sugar, travel and microbial powwow

Three tidbits from the recent literature

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For today’s journal club, I thought I’d give a brief digest of things that caught my eye in recent days (disclaimer: this is by no means meant to be an exhaustive or all inclusive report):

Viral O-linked glycans trigger early defense mechanisms: O-linked glycans were reported in the latest issue of Nature Immunology to be the triggers of an innate immune response that precedes and is independent of interferon-mediated innate defense. Paludan and coworkers show that recognition of these sugars on the surface of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) virions triggers epithelial cells to produce CXCL10 in a CXCR3-dependent manner, leading to neutrophil recruitment and viral load reduction in vivo at early times post-infection. The findings are nicely discussed in the accompanying News&Views by Iwasaki and collagues.

Trypanosomal long-range communications: adding to the role of nanotubes in microbial communication, T. brucei has recently was shown in Cell to generate them from the flagellar membrane. Harrington and colleagues also show that extracellular vesicles carrying all sorts of protein goodies bud from the tip of these nanotubes and confer recipient trypanosomes resistance to trypanosome lytic factors (TLF). These extracellular vesicles also fuse with red blood cells, altering their properties and inducing their depletion.

A microbial powwow controls viral infection: this interesting Review by Pfeiffer and Virgin in Science discusses how interactions among viruses, bacteria, archaea, helminths, fungi and phages contribute to shaping the course of viral infections and the host immune response in the gut. As the authors say, viruses do not exist in a vacuum, and the interactions that occur within their ecological niches modulate their replicative success. This Review focuses in the gut, but this is equally true in the oceans, for example. Keeping the virome in mind when analysing microbial communities will undoubtedly shed further light into this issue.

Nonia Pariente

Chief Editor, Nature Microbiology

I come from a mid-sized city on the northwestern coast of Spain. My interest in science initially took me to Madrid, where I finished university and received a PhD in molecular biology. In Madrid, I studied RNA virus evolution and new antiviral strategies with Esteban Domingo. I then moved to UCLA, where I focused on developing lentiviral vectors for gene therapy in Irvin Chen’s laboratory. In 2007, I made the plunge from bench to desk and joined the EMBO Reports editorial team as Reviews Editor, becoming Scientific Editor two years later and Senior Editor in 2012. At EMBO Reports, I was responsible for microbiology and immunology, among other areas, and spent many years expanding my understanding and love for all things microbial. In the summer of 2015, I joined the Nature Microbiology editorial launch team, handling all things related to virology and mycology (and for a brief while parasitology) and -after a couple of stints covering microbiology at Nature- I became the Chief Editor of Nature Microbiology in 2019. I look forward to interacting with the community and providing a venue to publish the most important advances in the field.