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Researchers find 'secret weapon' used by SARS virus

ino credits lead author Wataru Kamitani, a UTMB postdoctoral research fellow, with noticing that the nsp1 protein had an unexpected effect while he was investigating a different set of SARS coronavirus proteins. "He found this suppression of host gene expression, and then he designed several elegant experiments that showed it was caused by RNA degradation, something never before seen in an RNA virus."

Exactly how that degradation takes place, how an RNA virus can preserve its integrity when it makes a protein that breaks down RNA, and whether a mutated non-RNA-degrading SARS coronavirus could constitute a workable SARS vaccine are all issues that Makino's group intends to pursue. "The main concern for everybody is whether SARS will come back," Makino said. "We want to be ready for it if it does."


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Source:University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston


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