Friday, December 12, 2014

Exciting new research on RNA virus replication

Researchers at the University of Utah ran thousands of computer simulations designed to elucidate and illustrate the process by which certain RNA viruses (the Mononegavirales) replicate. Using VSV as a model, the researchers found a fundamental "sliding mechanism" that may be common between several RNA virus families.

Contrary to the typical mechanism of simple attachment and detachment observed in RNA viral replication, this proposed mechanism occurs when polymerases slide along the RNA strand until they reach the correct end of the strand to initiate replication. Once this polymerase starts synthesizing mRNA, it will collide with other sliding polymerases, loosening them from the RNA and allowing them to attach to the correct end of the RNA to continue the replication process.

This new mechanism would be a prime target for the development of new antiviral drugs, and may aid in future outbreaks of viruses within the Mononegavirales (including Ebola, rabies, and measles).

-Nick Simon

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