A new way to fight the flu identified
Scientists at the University of Texas have identified a new way to suppress the reproduction of the influenza virus. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the TAO2 protein could be a potential target for influenza-fighting antivirals.
To replicate, the influenza virus captures the host cell’s nuclear bodies, known as nuclear speckles, which reside within the cell nucleus and are associated with the regulation of splicing, the maturation process of messenger RNA. This provides the pathogen with a suitable environment for the expression of viral genes. It turned out that TAO2 kinase, a protein involved in the transfer of phosphate groups to other proteins, plays a key role in the assembly of speckles and their functioning.
The researchers suppressed the kinase activity of TAO2 and reduced its content in cells, which disrupted the structure of nuclear speckles and led to a decrease in the level of several proteins involved in the assembly and splicing of nuclear bodies, including SC35 and SON. At the same time, splicing and nuclear export of mRNA of the influenza M virus were disrupted, which caused the termination of the life cycle of the pathogen.
The authors of the scientific work conclude that the regulation of TAO2 activity can be considered as a therapeutic strategy for influencing the influenza virus.