Trying to halt hepatitis C's molecular hijacking

Dec 27, 2012

Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine have figured out intimate details of how the hepatitis C virus takes over an invaded cell, a breakthrough that could point to way for new treatments for the virus.

Hep C hijacks the machinery by which a cell makes proteins and uses it instead to create proteins for the virus. Over the last two decades, researchers have figured out that Hep C uses an RNA molecule to do this. Now they're trying to fill in the details.

One key detail is reported in a paper published online Dec. 23 in . It's written by Jeffrey Kieft, PhD, an associate professor at the CU medical school's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and an Early Career Scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and his former graduate student, Megan Filbin, PhD, a graduate of the Program in Molecular Biology.

Working with researchers from the lab of Tamir Gonen at the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Kieft used ultra high-power to take images of individual from Hep C as they interacted with the cell's machinery. The researchers combined those images with a variety of other experiments and these clues led them to identify a new way that the virus' RNAs takes over the cell's machinery.

Specifically, the researchers focused on how a ribosome, the cell's protein-making factory, can be manipulated by the Hep C RNA to affect a part of the protein process called translocation. And they saw something else – that even very small changes in the interactions important for that hijacking process can be blocked.

"This points the way to developing drugs to fight in ways that current therapies do not," Kieft says.

Explore further: How plant cell compartments change with cell growth

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Getting wise to the influenza virus' tricks

May 04, 2008

Influenza is currently a grave concern for governments and health organisations around the world. The worry is the potential for highly virulent bird flu strains, such as H5N1, to develop the ability to infect humans easily. ...

Danish researches solve virus puzzle

Mar 30, 2007

How is virus as for example HIV and bird flu able to make the cells within a human body work for the purpose of the virus? Researchers at the University of Copenhagen shed new light on this question.

Recommended for you

How plant cell compartments change with cell growth

16 hours ago

A research team led by Kiminori Toyooka from the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science has developed a sophisticated microscopy technique that for the first time captures the detailed movement of ...

Plants can 'switch off' virus DNA

16 hours ago

A team of virologists and plant geneticists at Wageningen UR has demonstrated that when tomato plants contain Ty-1 resistance to the important Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), parts of the virus DNA ...

A better understanding of cell to cell communication

17 hours ago

Researchers of the ISREC Institute at the School of Life Sciences, EPFL, have deciphered the mechanism whereby some microRNAs are retained in the cell while others are secreted and delivered to neighboring ...

A glimpse at the rings that make cell division possible

17 hours ago

Forming like a blown smoke ring does, a "contractile ring" similar to a tiny muscle pinches yeast cells in two. The division of cells makes life possible, but the actual mechanics of this fundamental process ...

User comments : 0