Antiviral DRACO: protein transduction and primary cell apoptosis
Figure 1: Antiviral effects of DRACO in infected cells.
A significant threat is posed by clinical and NIAID priority viruses. Although antiviral drugs are available, these treatments are relatively few and virus-specific. Recently, Todd Rider's team at MIT developed a novel technology that holds great promise as a broad spectrum antiviral therapeutic.1
Using a chimeric protein called DRACO, Double-stranded RNA Activated Capase Oligomerizer, Rider et al. targeted a wide variety of primary cells and cell lines infected with ssRNA, dsRNA, and dsDNA viruses.1 DRACO acts on cells containing double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), a common RNA intermediate during viral lifecycles that is absent in healthy cells, leaving uninfected cells unharmed.1
Three domains allow DRACO to pass through the cellular membrane and induce apoptosis in infected cells:
Protein transduction domain (PTD): allows for cellular update.
Double stranded RNA (dsRNA) binding domain: binds and oligomerizes DRACO on viral dsRNA.
Apoptosis induction domain: cross-linking of this domain, resulting from oligomerization, activates the apoptosis pathway in infected cells.
Cell Applications, Inc. provides DRACO-related research tools, including: