IISER Bhopal Scientists Discover Circular RNA That Plays Key Role in HIV-1 Virus Replication
Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Bhopal have made an exciting breakthrough in understanding the replication process of the HIV-1 virus. Their research focuses on a specific circular RNA molecule called “ciTRAN” that plays a crucial role in the virus’s multiplication within the human body. This discovery opens up new possibilities for developing novel therapeutic strategies against HIV-1.
Circular RNA, also known as circRNA, is a type of RNA molecule that forms a closed-loop structure. While most RNA molecules are straight-chain, circRNA is uniquely circular in shape. It has long been recognized to play a significant role in regulating gene expression and controlling various biological processes. However, its involvement in HIV-1 replication has remained unclear until now.
Led by Dr. Ajit Chande from the Department of Biological Sciences at IISER Bhopal, the team used a novel approach called “circDR-Seq” to capture circRNAs from T-cells infected with the HIV-1 virus. Through this method, they successfully identified a specific circRNA called ciTRAN that is crucial to the virus’s multiplication process.
Dr. Chande explains that characterizing circular RNA can be challenging because it isless abundant and difficult to detect in its native form. It’s like trying to follow a complicated recipe. Additionally, during viral infections, there is an overwhelming amount of information from the virus, making it even more challenging to find and study less common RNA molecules like circRNA. However, through their innovative approach, the team was able to detect and analyze ciTRAN’s role in the HIV-1 replication process.
The researchers discovered that the HIV-1 virus hijacks the host-encoded ciTRAN to efficiently multiply within the body. This finding reveals a previously unknown aspect of how viruses like HIV-1 overcome transmission barriers. It also paves the way for the development of host-directed treatments that target ciTRAN to inhibit viral replication.
Furthermore, the research team developed a small protein molecule that can inhibit viral transcription in the presence of virally-induced ciTRAN. This breakthrough represents a significant advancement in the fight against HIV-1 and potentially other viruses. It offers promising avenues for the development of novel therapeutic interventions and a deeper understanding of combating viral infections.
Prof. Gobardhan Das, Director of IISER Bhopal, expresses his excitement over this groundbreaking discovery. He believes that this research opens up new lines of investigation and may provide valuable leads for host-directed treatments.
The findings of this study have been published in the reputable peer-reviewed journal Science Advances. The paper’s co-authors include Vipin Bhardwaj, Aman Singh, Aditi Choudhary, Rishikesh Dalavi, Dr. Lalchhanhima Ralte, Dr. Richard Chawngthu, Dr. Nachimuthu Senthilkumar, Dr. Nagarjun Vijay, and Dr. Ajit Chande.
In conclusion, the research conducted by scientists at IISER Bhopal has identified a circular RNA molecule called ciTRAN that plays a crucial role in the replication of the HIV-1 virus. This breakthrough offers new insights into the virus’s multiplication process and opens up possibilities for developing innovative therapeutic strategies against HIV-1.
Keywords: IISER Bhopal, circular RNA, ciTRAN, HIV-1 virus, replication, therapeutic strategies.