When the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 enters a human cell, it hijacks the cell mechanism. One of its proteins, called PLpro, is produced by the human cell itself after the virus hijacks the cell mechanism. PLpro is essential for replication of the virus. A new study in Nature has found that pharmacological inhibition of PLpro blocks virus replication and also strengthens our immune response.
When SARS-CoV-2 infects us, the infected body cells release messenger substances known as type 1 interferons. These attract our killer cells, which kill the infected cells. SARS-CoV-2 fights back by letting the human cell produce PLpro. This protein suppresses the development of type 1 interferons, which would have attracted our killer cells.
Researchers have now been able to monitor these processes in cell culture. If they blocked PLpro, virus production was inhibited, and the innate immune response of the human cells was also strengthened.
To understand in detail how inhibiting PLpro stops the virus, researchers in Frankfurt, Munich, Mainz, Freiburg and Leiden have worked closely together and pooled their biochemical, structural, IT and virological expertise. The research was led by Goethe University and University Hospital Frankfurt.
—Source: Goethe University Frankfurt
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