Many viruses infecting humans including influenza virus, hepatitis C virus, West Nile virus, rabies and measles viruses contain a ribonucleic acid (RNA) genome. These viruses are dependent on RNA as genetic information and they duplicate in human cells to make copies, thereby infecting other cells and spreading the virus. Researchers from UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, led by principal investigators Joseph Marcotrigiano and Smita Patel, show, for the first time, the structure of retinoic-acid-inducible gene-I, or RIG-I. RIG-I is a human protein that detects whether the RNA comes from a virus (viral RNA) and, if so, initiates an auto-immune response. Isolating the structure of RIG-I with RNA bound is the first step in developing broad-based therapies against viral infections.
The study, "Structural basis of RNA recognition and activation by innate immune receptor RIG-I," was chosen for advanced online publication in Nature on September 25, 2011. (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nature10537.html)