Sunday, April 15, 2018

New insight about how viruses use host proteins to their advantage

Researchers at Uppsala University discovered a host protein that many viruses use as their transport gene when infecting their host and growing throughout the body. Viruses first infect the person, and use the host's own body cells to and mechanisms to jumpstart their takeover of the body's systems. A human gene called ZC3H11A has been known for almost 20 years yet the functional importance of the gene remained unknown. Because of this curiosity of this gene, the researchers decided to use gene-editing to turn off the gene in the human cells, since the gene was considered to be unknown in terms of purpose. The result of this inactivation displayed that the gene played no major role in the growth of human cells in the body, which was slightly disappointing to still not find its purpose. With this knowledge in mind, the researchers then decided to conduct an experiment to infect the human cells lacking ZC3H11A with a virus infection and the results were astounding.
When infecting the human cells lacking this particular gene resulted in a drastic reduction in virus growth. The theory was then tested again with 4 different kinds of viruses, HIV, adenovirus, influenza virus and herpes simplex virus, and all had a similar conclusion. These viruses need ZC3H11A to act as a transport protein, so that these strong viruses can use to latch onto and spread more of their virus cells to the rest of the host. This is very surprising however, considering that the host protein is usually shut down when the host is infected with a virus, but to benefit the virus, the cellular mechanism for RNA transport was able to be taken over for their own advantages to multiply and reproduce more efficiently and quickly. Knowing this information now can serve a major purpose in the future, specifically for anti-viral therapies and finding ways to use this information to our own advantage. In my opinion, this is such a major step to eliminating the virus from the moment they infect a person, because if a strong enough method is developed to stop the virus from reaching this transport protein, then there would be a significant amount of virus cells to deal with. All these viruses listed like HIV, adenovirus, influenza virus and the herpes simplex virus are all not simple to treat, they all have their strengths as viruses do, but knowing the first step of these virus' processes when beginning to infect the host, is highly important information and the first step to eliminating the virus from becoming a major problem that can potentially never be treated.

For more information on this article:

To read the study done by the Uppsala University on the ZC3H11A gene and what it could mean for viruses:

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