Scientists have developed a blueprint for battling disease using DNA protected by armor.
This virus could be a key to fighting human disease.
Edward H. Egelman, of the UVA Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics said, “What’s interesting and unusual is being able to see how proteins and DNA can be put together in a way that’s absolutely stable under the harshest conditions imaginable, we’ve discovered what appears to be a basic mechanism of resistance – to heat, to desiccation, to ultraviolet radiation. And knowing that, then, we can go in many different directions, including developing ways to package DNA for gene therapy.”
The virus, SIRV2 infects microorganisms called Sulfolobus islandicus that live in acid hot springs reaching up to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
Scientists have found similarity between the SIRV2 virus and spores micro organism type to outlive in inhospitable environments.
Egelman said, “Some of these spores are responsible for very, very horrific diseases that are hard to treat, like anthrax. So we show in this paper that this virus actually functions in a similar way to some of the proteins present in bacterial spores. Understanding how these bacterial spores work gives us potentially new abilities to destroy them.”
Egelman added, “Having this basic scientific research leads in many, many directions, most of which are impossible to predict, in terms of what the implications are going to be.”
Researchers found that the virus survives in such conditions by forcing its DNA into what is referred to as an A-form, which is a protective structural state.
Egelman said , “This is, I think, going to highlight once again the contributions she made, because many people have felt that this A-form of DNA is only found in the laboratory under very non-biological conditions, when DNA is dehydrated or dry.”
Egelman added, “Instead, it appears to be a general mechanism in biology for protecting DNA.”
The findings of the study are published in the journal Science.