Skip to content Skip to navigation

In defence mode: this is how Zika virus protects key parts of its genome

30 July 2020
A simple and ingenious strategy discovered thanks to computer simulations

To fight viruses, cells can deploy defence enzymes that progressively destroy viral genome strands starting from one of the two strand ends. However, this degradation mechanism is not effective against epidemic viruses such as Zika. In fact, the defence enzyme jams at precise points of the viral genome, which put up a strenuous resistance by assuming a “defensive” conformation. This is how the virus succeeds at protecting important pieces of its RNA inside infected cells, as demonstrated by a recent study coordinated by SISSA of Trieste and published in the journal Nature Communications.