Monday, October 6, 2014

Pretty New - Kinda Hot: Herpes Virus DNA is Fluid-Like

On the quest for viral enlightenment, I stumbled upon an article titled, "Liquid DNA Behind Virus Attack." Attracted by this sci-fi-esque title, I decided to read on. According to the report posted in R&D Mag, "viruses can convert their DNA from Solid to Fluid form." Obviously the author of this article hasn't taken classes in virology, otherwise they would have specified that not all Viruses use DNA as their nucleic acid, but I decided to continue on reading because I wanted to understand what the new and hot stuff was about. Despite my decreasing trust in the Author, it turns out that they were talking about a study published on September 7, 2014 to Nature's journal of Chemical Biology titled, "Solid-to-fluid DNA transition inside HSV-1 capsid close to the temperature of infection." 

Although it was published a month ago, the article is actually pretty interesting, and discusses the method in which Herpes Virus 1 injects it's DNA into the host cell. HSV-1 DNA has a "crystalline density" inside of the capsid, but the ionic environment of epithelial and neuronal cells reduces sliding friction between DNA strands, thus allowing for the injection of the DNA into the cell's nucleus to be fluidic. The cations present in the cytoplasm of the cells have a "screening" effect on the negatively charged repulsive interactions that would normally occur and cause friction between adjacent strands of tightly packed DNA. 

This favorable ionic environment makes those cells particularly susceptible towards being infected by HSV-1, and the authors realize the potential for a drug that could change the ionic environment, increasing the sliding friction needed for injection of fluid like DNA, and limiting viral replication within the nucleus. The authors also mention that the temperature of the human body, 37 degrees Celsius, is optimal for reducing strand-strand interaction. They excitedly conclude by noting that stopping the solid to fluid like transition of the viral genome in HSV-1 via ion and temperature variation may be a new antiviral target for drug development.

If you are interested in reading the article on R&D Magazine which lead me to the Nature article, check it out here: 

If you are interested in reading the article on R&D Magazine which lead me to the Nature article, check it out here: http://www.rdmag.com/news/2014/10/liquid-dna-behind-virus-attacks

- Marcus Munoz


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