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Hepatitis C virus faces new weapon from Florida State scientists
Date:9/29/2010

Florida State biology doctoral student Feng Yang led the research team. The award-winning scholar earned her Ph.D. in August 2010 and is now a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. Yang designed the CoFIM screening methodology with fellow FSU graduate students, postdoctoral associates and distinguished faculty colleagues including Associate Professor Tang; chemistry/biochemistry Professor Timothy M. Logan, director of FSU's Institute of Molecular Biophysics; and Research Assistant Professor Ewa A. Bienkiewicz, of the FSU College of Medicine, where she directs the Biomedical Proteomics Laboratory.

Driving the team's development of CoFIM screening was the need to identify key "cellular cofactors" and their mechanisms of action a fundamental aspect of virus-host interaction research.

"'Cellular cofactors' are proteins that normally exist in host cells that have been hijacked by viruses to facilitate viral replication." Tang said. "They became accomplices to the invading viruses.

"Our research team was the first to show that 'cyclophilin A' (CyPA) is an essential cellular cofactor for hepatitis C virus infection and the direct target of a new class of clinical anti-HCV compounds, which include cyclosporine A (CsA)-based drugs that are devoid of immunosuppressive function," Tang said.

"In addition, we went a step further than other research teams by employing our newly developed CoFIM screening method, which we used to demonstrate not only HCV's dependence on cellular cofactor cyclophilin A and susceptibility to cyclosporine A drugs but also to uncover the molecular-level regulators that determine those two traits in the virus."

Those molecular-level regulators are known as "small interfering RNA libraries" collections of molecules so named for their size and ability to suppress gene expression. They act to individually suppress every gene in the cell, resulting in different consequences depending upon which gene is
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Contact: Hengli Tang
tang@bio.fsu.edu
850-645-2402
Florida State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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