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Epigenetic control on transcription of viral genes

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Viruses like human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) use your own cell machinery against you by hijacking your RNA polymerase machinery, among other things, to turn their genes into viral proteins. A study published in mBio this week reveals new information that could help in designing drugs to fend off these cellular pirates: during transcription, the elongation of HCMV RNA is facilitated by Elongin B, a protein that works much the same way when RNA polymerase is elongating human sequences. This suggests Elongin B could be used as a tool to strangle the synthesis of viral proteins ā€“ strike down Elongin B (or its action in viral gene transcription) and you can strike down the manufacture of viral proteins. The findings also offer up a new, tractable model system for studying how transcriptional elongation is regulated in living cells.
 
 

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