Our very own Department of Physics professors, Prem Chapagain and Bernard Gerstman, along with FIU alum, Jeevan GC recently collaborated with Robert Stahelin of Purdue University to find a way to stop the replication of the Ebola virus by mutating its most important protein.
The team of researchers were able to mutate Viral Protein 40 (VP40) in a way that changed the residues of the protein, blocking the budding and replication of the Ebola virus in a model system.
VP40 is a peripheral membrane protein that regulates viral budding from the plasma membrane. It interacts with a human plasma-membrane lipid, phosphatidylserine, to facilitate replication of the virus. All animal viruses have to cross membranes for cell entry and exit. The research team found the specific parts of VP40 that bind with the lipid: a cationic patch on the end of an amino acid chain. This site controls the ability of the protein to form a lipid envelope, the layer that protects the virus from the outside environment.
The research was featured on Science Daily, read the full article to learn more.