Washington: A team of researchers from Tianjin University solved the mystery of the Zika virushelicase.
The Zika virus causes microcephaly and other severe birth defects. However, as there are currently no effective vaccines or therapies available to contain ZIKV infection, ZIKV remains a significant challenge to public health.
All viruses seem to need a helicase for replication. The Zika virus helicase is a motor enzyme which can convert energy from nucleoside triphosphate to unwind double stranded nucleic acids.
This is an essential step for viral replication. By targeting Zika virus helicase with small-molecule inhibitors, it might be possible to stop viral spreading and thus prevent disease.
The scientists have successfully retrieved an image at 1.8 angstroms of this viral enzyme. An angstrom is one ten-billionth (10-10) of a meter.
The research has been published in Springer’s journal Protein & Cell.