Scientists find the mechanism of replication of flu viruses in cells

In a major scientific advancement, researchers have come very close to understand how the replication of flu viruses within infected cells takes place. The research would provide for development of more effective vaccines.

What has been discovered?

The primary focus of the study was the role of influenza’s ribonucleoprotein (RNP) and its interaction with and a special enzyme that the virus needs to make copies of it. RNPs function as small machines necessary for the survival and spread of the virus in its hosts. Each RNP contains a segment–usually a single protein-coding gene–of the RNA-based viral genome. This viral RNA segment is covered with protective viral nucleoproteins. It is attached by a flu-virus polymerase enzyme, which handles the two central tasks of viral reproduction: making new viral genomic RNA, and making the RNA gene-transcripts that will become new viral proteins. The flu polymerase also contains some of the key "species barriers" that keep, for example, avian flu viruses from infecting mammals.

By using innovative and sophisticated technology, the researchers have developed test-cell expression system that produced all of the protein and RNA components needed to make full-length flu RNPs. The innovations enable researchers to analyse molecular samples more easily and speedily.

What is Ribonucleoprotein (RNPs)?

It is an association of Ribonucleic acid (RNA) and protein. Some examples of RNPs:

  • Ribosome
  • Telomerase enzyme
  • RNase P
  • hnRNP
  • small nuclear RNPs (snRNPs)



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