UCLA researchers identify peptide that inhibits replication of hepatitis C virus
Researchers from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a cell-permeable peptide that inhibits a hepatitis C virus protein and blocks cancer and cirrhosis causing viral replication. Scientists demonstrated that a viral, non-structural protein 5A (NS5A) directly binds to heat shock proteins 70 (HSP 70), and they mapped the site of the NS5A–HSP 70 complex on NS5A. While HSP 70 was previously shown to bind to NS5A in cells, a direct NS5A–HSP70 interaction and complex formation was established in this study. In an effort to stop this interaction, the researchers tested peptides that might inhibit HSP 70. Blocking the HSP 70 protein rather than a viral protein reduces the chance of hepatitis C virus infected patients of developing resistance to the peptide, which researchers claim may be a candidate for hepatitis C therapy.