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'Insulator' helps silence genes in dormant herpes virus

ized in a manner very similar to the host chromatin, a similarity that may work to the virus's advantage, says Shelley L. Berger, Ph.D., the Hilary Koprowski Professor at The Wistar Institute and co-author on the study.

"This means that the virus can take advantage of the many regulatory schemes that the host has worked out for its own chromatin and not have to reinvent the wheel by making its own proteins and unique structures," she says.

The researchers now plan to study the HSV-1 insulator in mice to see how the mechanism works to block the communication of gene-activating elements such as enhancers and promoters. The group is also working to identify any additional proteins that may play a role in establishing the insulator.

Knowing what genes the virus uses to hide and re-emerge could give pharmaceutical companies targets for designing drugs that disrupt those mechanisms. The studies also have implications for treating and manipulating other types of viruses, Zhou says.

"This study provides one of first examples of how viral chromatin is organized in a very similar way to host chromatin," Zhou says. "Learning more about the similarities and differences in these chromatin structures may help finding ways to develop therapies that can target the virus and not the host."


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Source:The Wistar Institute


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