Viruses have limited genetic and cellular materials, and often depend on hijacking resources (for example, nutrients and basic cellular machinery) from their hosts to survive, multiply, and cause disease. Jiahuai Han, from Xiamen University in China, and colleagues conducted a systematic search in the fruit fly Drosophila for genes of the fly host that contribute to high-speed synthesis of viral proteins, and identified the pelo gene as a critical host factor.
pelo is necessary for the efficient manufacturing of the capsid proteins of a number of fly viruses. As the protein dos not seem to fulfil an essential function in the host and is conserved across species, pelo might be a broad-spectrum antiviral target. The scientists conclude “the discovery of the general antiviral activity by pelo deficiency may provide a new therapeutic target for broad-spectrum antiviral therapy”.
Wu X, He W-T, Tian S, Meng D, Li Y, et al. (2014) pelo Is Required for High Efficiency Viral Replication. PLoS Pathog 10(4): e1004034. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004034, http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004034