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To Drive Infections, a Hijacking Virus Mimics a Cell's Signaling System

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New biological research reveals how an invading virus hijacks a cell's workings by imitating a signaling marker to defeat the body's defenses. By manipulating cell signals, the virus destroys a defensive protein designed to inhibit it. This finding, from studies in human cell cultures, may represent a broader targeting strategy used by other viruses, and may lay the scientific groundwork for developing more effective treatments for infectious diseases.

"Learning details of how cells respond to viruses helps us to understand key cellular machinery better," said study leader Matthew D. Weitzman, Ph.D., of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "This study tells us how a virus overcomes intrinsic host defenses. In this case the virus mimics signals used during normal DNA repair mechanisms."

The study team, formerly based at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., published their current findings online March 8 in Molecular Cell.

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