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Probing a mosquito protein for clues in the fight against Zika

Date:
September 7, 2016
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
As health departments around the United States boost efforts to combat Zika, scientists are working on new ways to kill the mosquitoes that carry the virus. One approach involves understanding the molecular mechanisms that keep the bugs alive so we can then undermine them. Scientists report that they have revealed new structural insights on a key protein from Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species most often linked to the spread of Zika.
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As health departments around the U.S. boost efforts to combat Zika, scientists are working on new ways to kill the mosquitoes that carry the virus. One approach involves understanding the molecular mechanisms that keep the bugs alive so we can then undermine them. Scientists report in the ACS journal Biochemistry that they have revealed new structural insights on a key protein from Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species most often linked to the spread of Zika.

In February, the World Health Organization called for action against the disease after Brazil experienced a spike in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a condition characterized by an abnormally small head. Since then, the virus has been reported in more than 40 countries. Studies have shown that compounds that inhibit a protein called sterol carrier protein 2 (SCP2), which is involved in the transport of cholesterol and fats in insects, can kill Aedes aegypti larva. Kiran K. Singarapu and colleagues from CSIR -- Indian Institute of Chemical Technology wanted to take a closer look at the structure of one of the protein's variants to help inform the development of future insecticides.

Using solution nuclear magnetic resonance, a technique that yields molecular-level information about proteins, the researchers were able to describe the 3-D structure and dynamics of a SCP2 variant. The new insights could help scientists screen small-molecule libraries for insecticide candidates. In addition to curbing Zika, any resulting compound that stamps out Aedes aegypti could reduce cases of other illnesses -- dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya -- that the mosquito also carries.


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Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kiran Kumar Singarapu, Ashish Ahuja, Purushotam Reddy Potula, Ramesh Ummanni. Solution Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Studies of Sterol Carrier Protein 2 Like 2 (SCP2L2) Reveal the Insecticide Specific Structural Characteristics of SCP2 Proteins in Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes. Biochemistry, 2016; 55 (35): 4919 DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.6b00322

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American Chemical Society. "Probing a mosquito protein for clues in the fight against Zika." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160907113711.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2016, September 7). Probing a mosquito protein for clues in the fight against Zika. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160907113711.htm
American Chemical Society. "Probing a mosquito protein for clues in the fight against Zika." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160907113711.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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