A protein that combats viruses and bacteria has been cloned by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute. This protein, called Trif, associates with different "receptors" that detect viruses or bacteria on the surfaces of human cells. Trif helps turn these detections of viruses and bacteria into immune system responses that fight the invaders.
The study, published in the July 20 issue of Nature, found that Trif is the topmost protein shared by the pathway that detects gram-negative bacteria and the pathway that detects most viruses.
This is the first time scientists have identified a protein that directly responds to signals that the innate immune system sends when it detects both viruses and bacteria.The study also says that Trif could offer a potential target for certain diseases in which the innate immune system plays a role, such as sepsis.