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New SARS Protein Linked To Important Cell Doorway

hen we looked at where the protein was," says Diamond. "Based on our analysis of the genome, we thought the orf7a protein would be on the surface of infected cells, decoying the immune system in some obvious way. But we found that most orf7a protein was inside the cell and little if any of it was on the surface."

Further experiments revealed that part of the protein specializes in getting orf7a to the Golgi apparatus—the structure cells use to prepare proteins for transport to the cell surface--and keeping it there.

Plans for follow-up include studies of a recently produced version of the SARS virus where orf7a has been genetically knocked out. Scientists hope to use it to learn what orf7a does for the virus and how important it is to the virus' ability to survive and reproduce.

"If knocking out orf7a significantly attenuates the virus, we may able to look at the possibility of using it to make a SARS vaccine," Pekosz speculates.

Nelson CA, Pekosz A, Lee CA, Diamond MS, Fremont DH. Structure and intracellular targeting of the SARS-Coronavirus Orf7a Accessory Protein. Structure, January 2005, 75-85.

Funding from the National Institutes of Health supported this research.


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Source:Washington University School Of Medicine



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