Structure of RNA protein allow virus to control human protein binding

Structure of RNA protein allow virus to control human proteins
Structure of RNA protein allow virus to control human proteins | Courtesy of
Scientists from Case Western Reserve University and the University of Michigan partnered to capture the world’s first image of a human protein binding with the protein of ribonucleic acid (RNA).

This image could help researchers discover how certain viruses, like HIV, can control how their genetic material is expressed. This could help with future strategies that could inhibit viruses and their replications, which could stop the infection entirely.

RNA is part of a group of three macromolecules that -- as well as proteins and DNA -- are crucial to all life forms. Better understanding how the protein hnRNP A1 connects with RNA will help researchers develop new ways to stop this replication and prevent the disease from spreading.

The virus uses a hairpin loop, which is a specific mechanism utilized by hnRNP A1 to bind to RNA, to spread throughout the body. This protein is a unique, different structure compared to how DNA binds.

"We solved the three-dimensional structure of the protein bound to an RNA hairpin derived from the HIV virus," Blanton Tolbert, a chemistry professor at Case Western Reserve, said. "But because the hairpin loop is found in other viruses and throughout healthy cells, our findings may help explain how the protein connects to the other hairpin targets."

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Case Western Reserve University

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