Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Influenza virus replication: Catching the cap-snatcher

Date:
August 2, 2012
Source:
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Summary:
Researchers have determined the detailed three-dimensional structure of part of the flu virus' RNA polymerase, an enzyme that is crucial for influenza virus replication. The research was done on the 2009 pandemic influenza strain but it will help scientists to design innovative drugs against all the different influenza strains.

Different inhibitors (yellow, grey) fill the cave-like active site of the cap-snatching protein (the endonuclease, in green) differently, even though they all bind to the active site’s two metal ions (magenta).
Credit: EMBL/Cusack

Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Grenoble, France, have determined the detailed 3-dimensional structure of part of the flu virus' RNA polymerase, an enzyme that is crucial for influenza virus replication. This important finding is published August 3 in PLoS Pathogens. The research was done on the 2009 pandemic influenza strain but it will help scientists to design innovative drugs against all the different influenza strains, and potentially lead to a new class of anti-flu drugs in the next 5-10 years.

The scientists focused on the endonuclease part of the viral RNA polymerase. The endonuclease is responsible for a unique mechanism called 'cap-snatching' that allows the virus to trick its host cell into producing viral proteins. In human cells the translation of messenger RNA (mRNA) strands into proteins requires a special structure, called the "cap," at the beginning of each mRNA. When the influenza virus infects a host cell its endonuclease "snatches" that cap from the cell's own mRNA. Another part of its RNA polymerase then uses it as the starting point for synthesizing viral mRNA. With the correct cap structure at the beginning, viral mRNA can then hijack the protein-production machinery of the infected cell to make viral proteins, which assemble into new viruses that will spread the infection.

The team led by Stephen Cusack, Head of EMBL Grenoble, analyzed crystals of endonuclease from the 2009 pandemic influenza strain using the high intensity X-ray beams at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The researchers were able to determine the 3D atomic structure of the enzyme and to visualize how several different small molecule inhibitors bind to and block its active site. If the active site of the endonuclease is blocked by an inhibitor the enzyme cannot bind its normal substrate, the host cell mRNA, and viral replication is prevented.

The active site of the endonuclease is shaped like a cave with two metal ions at the bottom. Cusack and colleagues found that all the inhibitors they studied bind to those two metal ions but, depending on their shapes, different inhibitors bind differently to the amino-acids of the cave's walls.

"Based on this detailed structural information we can now design new synthetic chemicals which bind even more tightly to the endonuclease active site and thus will potentially be more potent inhibitors of influenza virus replication," explains Stephen Cusack. "We can even try to build in anti-drug resistance by making sure the inhibitors only contact those amino acids that the virus cannot mutate since they are essential for the normal activity of the polymerase."

Because the cap-snatching mechanism is common to all influenza strains, new potent endonuclease inhibitors should be effective against seasonal flu, novel pandemic strains or highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu. EMBL scientists are working with EMBL's spin-off company Savira pharmaceuticals, in partnership with Roche, to further develop influenza inhibitors. Promising candidates will be tested first for efficacy in cell culture, ultimately moving into clinical trials on humans.

This research was partly funded by the European commission, through the FP7 research grant awarded to the FluPharm project.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eva Kowalinski, Chloe Zubieta, Andrea Wolkerstorfer, Oliver H. J. Szolar, Rob W. H. Ruigrok, Stephen Cusack. Structural Analysis of Specific Metal Chelating Inhibitor Binding to the Endonuclease Domain of Influenza pH1N1 (2009) Polymerase. PLoS Pathogens, 2012; 8 (8): e1002831 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002831

Cite This Page:

European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "Influenza virus replication: Catching the cap-snatcher." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120802183848.htm>.
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. (2012, August 2). Influenza virus replication: Catching the cap-snatcher. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120802183848.htm
European Molecular Biology Laboratory. "Influenza virus replication: Catching the cap-snatcher." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120802183848.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

Ivorians Abandon Monkey Pets in Fear Over Ebola Virus

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Since the arrival of Ebola in Ivory Coast, Ivorians have been abandoning their pets, particularly monkeys, in the fear that they may transmit the virus. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Study Links Male-Pattern Baldness To Prostate Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) New findings suggest men with a certain type of baldness at age 45 are 39 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins