A joint study by scientists from UT Southwestern has identified a new function for a protein called TAO2, which appears to be key to inhibiting the replication of the flu virus, which infects millions of individuals worldwide each year and kills hundreds of thousands. The findings are published in PNAS.
“These results reveal new strategies for intervention flu replication of the virus, providing a potential pathway for the development of new antivirals against influenza, “said Beatrice Fontura, Ph.D., professor of cell biology at UT Southwestern, whose lab studies the interactions between RNA viruses such as influenza A virus. led by Dr. Fontura, along with first author and PhD student Shengyang Gao, Ph.D., and Melanie H. Cobb, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology.
To replicate, the influenza virus takes up parts of the host cell’s nucleus, known as nuclear spots, which then provide the virus with a medium for expressing its genes. Dr. Fontura and her colleagues, including experts in cell biology, molecular biology and pharmacology, identified a new role in regulating the assembly and function of nuclear spots for TAO2 kinase – a protein involved in the transfer of phosphate groups to other proteins.
“We have found that TAO2 is needed to maintain the physical integrity and function of nuclear spots. Among the functions of nuclear spots is the regulation of key steps in gene expression that are usurped by the influenza virus in these compartments to support viral replication. Therefore, by lowering the levels of TAO2 – or its kinase activity – we were able to inhibit the flu virus replication without causing major toxic effects on the host cell, “said Dr. Fontura.
Other UTSW researchers who contributed to this study include Matthew Esparza, Ishmael Dehgan, Ke Zhang, Kimberly Button, Tolga Kagatai, Jerry W. Shay, Elizabeth J. Goldsmith and Gigian “James” Chen.
Shengyan Gao et al, the integrity and function of nuclear spots require TAO2 kinase, Notices of the National Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.2206046119
UT Southwest Medical Center
Quote: Scientists identify protein key to inhibit influenza virus replication (2022, June 20), retrieved June 20, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-scientists-protein-key-inhibiting -replication.html
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