Study provides a new way to combat Ebola
A novel study, described in mBio, shows that a modified human protein is important for the replication of ebolavirus (EBOV), providing a way to combat Ebola infection.
EBOV can cause a serious and often fatal hemorrhagic fever in humans and other mammals. In 2014, West Africa experienced the largest outbreak of Ebola in history, which affected multiple countries and killed hundreds of thousands of people. To infect a host cell, the virus must make use of the host's machinery to grow and replicate. There is an urgent need to uncover the viral pathogenesis.
To better understand the gene expression of EBOV, the researchers used noninfectious fragments of the virus in the experiments. They blocked a cellular pathway involved in protein synthesis by using small molecule drugs. As a result, viral gene expression was decreased. This indicated that the pathway that was suppressed by the drugs plays a central role in the ebolavirus replication. In another set of experiments, the researchers investigated the mechanism behind this process. The results demonstrated that the addition of one of the drugs could cause the EBOV to produce fewer copies of itself.
Furthermore, the researchers examined whether there were changes in the levels of some viral proteins. They discovered that, when the pathway is switched on, a viral protein called VP30 builds up in the cell. By contrast, the VP30 protein doesn't increase when the pathway is switched off.
According to Dr. John Connor, author of the study, the EBOV produces its own protein by using a specific component of the protein synthesis mechanism of the host cell. The study showed that inhibiting that component could affect the virus's ability to duplicate itself. It identified a modified human protein which is critical for viral replication.