Scientists identify human proteins Zika virus requires to replicate

A team of scientists at University of Massachusetts Medical School have used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to determine which human proteins the Zika virus needs to replicate — a discovery which could help combat Zika, dengue and other emerging viral infections.

The research was led by Abraham Brass, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in microbiology and physiological systems at Worcester-based UMass.

By depleting each protein in the human genome one at a time, the researchers were able to identify multiple proteins critical to both Zika and dengue viral replication — including the AXL protein, which gives the virus access to enter the cell, and the endoplasmic reticulum membrane protein complex, which is crucial to the development of the viruses' early-stage infections.

"These viral dependencies on human proteins represent weaknesses that could potentially be used to prevent or stop infection," said Dr. Brass. "Just like any enemy, the more we know about how these viruses function and replicate, the better."

Read the full report in the journal Cell Reports.



More articles on Zika:
10,000 pregnant women to be enrolled in multinational Zika study
Hundreds of infants in Puerto Rico could be born with Zika-related birth defects, says CDC
Infographic: Where in the US have Zika cases been reported? [June 17 update]

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