Opening the door to potential treatments for the deadly Ebola virus, scientists have found that a protein made by the virus plays a role similar to that of a coat-check attendant.
The protein removes a protective coat from the virus’s genetic material, exposing the viral genome so that it can be copied, and then returns the coat, according to a new study led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The research, in cell cultures, showed that interfering with this process kills the virus.
As part of the study, the researchers introduced rogue coat-check attendants into Ebola-infected cells. These rogue attendants carried a short chain of amino acids that forms the part of the protein that removes the coat. But they lacked the ability to return the coat, disrupting the emergence of newly created viruses from infected cells. Consequently, the virus did not survive.
“This coat-check protein, known as VP35, has a great deal of potential as a new target for Ebola treatments,” said senior author Gaya Amarasinghe, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and immunology at the School of Medicine. “If we can block this process, we can stop Ebola infection by blocking viral replication.”
The study appears April 9 in Cell Reports.