Researchers in UGA Vet School discover a mechanism that blocks replication of a retrovirus

ep on the planet has endogenous retroviruses that are present in the genome like every other gene," Palmarini said. "In fact, all animal species humans included have endogenous retroviruses."

Sheep have some 20 different endogenous retroviruses related to the lung cancer-causing Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus or JSRV.

Scientists believe that some endogenous retroviruses protect hosts by interfering with the infection by related disease-causing retroviruses.

Palmarini's team discovered an endogenous retrovirus called enJS56A1 that makes viral particles that cannot escape from the cell. It also interferes with the cancer-causing retrovirus JSRV's ability to exit host cells. The blocked escape route is attributed mainly to a single amino acid substitution in a protein that comprises the virus's protective shell.

Other scientists have reported endogenous retroviruses that interfere with infective retrovirus replication at different points in early states of the cycle specifically by blocking entry to the host cell or blocking before insertion of viral DNA into the host genome. This is the first report of an endogenous retrovirus interfering with the viral replication so late in the cycle.

Understanding how enJS56A1 functions could provide a model for designing new anti-retroviral therapies that work on cells already infected by retroviruses. Some common anti-retroviral drugs, such as reverse transcriptase inhibitors, function only immediately after the virus infects a new cell.


Contact: Massimo Palmarini
University of Georgia

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