Molecular mimicry contributes to disease processes:
In both acute and chronic disease, pathogen-associated proteins and metabolites are often identical or similar in structure to those created by their human hosts. This “molecular mimicry” or sequence homology between these proteins and metabolites can make it increasingly difficult for the human host to recognize “foreign” from “self.’ This can lead to dysfunction + signaling interference in patients with chronic disease.
Lead author: Lars Juhl Jensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
The database documents known interactions b/t host and viral proteins. So far it’s documented 177,425 interactions b/t 239 viruses and 319 hosts. Now, consider that most human viruses have yet to be identified/characterized (the extent of these interactions are tremendous!)
Paper highlight: “Viruses act as metabolic engineers of the cells they infect as they commandeer the cell’s protein synthesis mechanisms to replicate…thus it is important to study how their disruption of the host protein–protein interaction networks causes disease”
Lead author: Leonid Margolis, National Institutes of Health
The team found that viral vesicles and human extracellular vesicles (EVs) share considerable structural and functional similarity (molecular mimicry). These similarities are so extensive that it is difficult to distinguish EVs from (noninfectious) viruses. Since we now know the human virome is vast, it’s not surprising that components of our basic biology are connected to, or derived from, those of our viral inhabitants.