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Change the Channel

Role of a viral protein called 6K in viral budding promoting infection revealed making 6K an attractive antiviral target

02 June 2023

Change the Channel

Blocking the budding of viruses – when they wrap themselves in the host cell membrane and move off to spread the infection – could be a good strategy to stop them in their tracks. Researchers interested in alphaviruses – a type that includes chikungunya and Sindbis viruses – examined the role of a protein called 6K in virus assembly and spreading. They found that it functions as a channel to let molecules pass through membranes, like has been seen in proteins of HIV and influenza. This ion channel activity was needed for the formation of vacuoles in the cell, which promote the transport of proteins to the cell lining where they are incorporated into new virus particles (these proteins in red spread throughout the membrane, left, compared to clumping in the absence of 6K, right). Interfering with 6K action could be a new way to treat infection, and nip budding in the bud.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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