Scientists have defined the detailed architecture of an enzyme crucial for the replication of two major human viruses. The results, reported in the April issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, will guide the discovery of new antiviral drugs.
Hommel and colleagues study a viral enzyme called NS3pro from Dengue and West Nile viruses. NS3pro processes newly synthesized viral proteins, an event that is required for the replication of both viruses. The activity of NS3pro depends on another viral protein called NS2B. NS2B activates NS3pro, but how it does this was not known. The authors have determined three-dimensional structures of West Nile and Dengue viruses NS3pro bound to NS2B. These structures reveal that NS2B activates NS3pro by helping it to recognize its targets.
An estimated 2.5 billion people are at risk of infection from Dengue and West Nile viruses. At present, no vaccine or treatment is available to prevent or cure these diseases, so this information will aid the development of new drugs against West Nile and Dengue viruses.
Ulrich Hommel (Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Structural & Molecular Biology press release.
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