Tuesday, 14 December 2021 10:05

Antiviral protein ZAP inhibits the proliferation of SARS-Cov-2 Featured

Scientists at the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI), Würzburg, and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Braunschweig, have found an immune defense protein that can inhibit the proliferation of SARS-CoV-2 by a factor of 20.

Once SARS-CoV-2 has entered the cell, it hijacks a process from the host cell that is used to read genetic information from a messenger RNA to produce proteins. Here, the virus changes the reading direction, allowing it to produce its own proteins and replicate.

The research team studied a so-called restriction factor called ZAP in cell culture. The molecule intervenes in the structural folding of coronavirus RNA and interrupts the signal that SARS-CoV-2 sends to induce host cells to produce its replication enzymes.

The exact molecular mechanism of the influence of ZAP (zinc finger antiviral protein) is still under investigation.

Source and further information:

Original publication:
Zimmer, M., Kibe, A., Rand, U., Pekarek, L., Ye L, Buck, S., Smyth, R., Cicin-Sain, L. & Caliskan, N. (2021). The short isoform of the host antiviral protein ZAP acts as an inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2 programmed ribosomal frameshifting. Nature Communications, 10.12.2021. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-27431-0.