Publication – VHFC scientists describe the basis for the Lassa NP proteins exonuclease activity

In the August issue of PLoS One, VHFC research scientists from the Ollman Saphire lab at the Scripps Research Institute describe the molecular details of how the Lassa NP protein performs its nuclease activity. Digestion of viral RNA by this mechanisms appears to cause suppression of immune activity in infected cells and may be an important mediator of Lassa fever progression and disease. By solving the structure of the viral NP in complex with double-stranded RNA they gained insights into this important viral mechanism. This study may have relevance for the development of antiviral drugs and illustrates how a very few amino acid changes confer alternate specificity and biological phenotype to an enzyme.

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