February 29, 2024


Researchers collaborate to uncover mechanisms of ASF virus in swine cells



Experts from The Pirbright Institute and University College London (UCL) have partnered to delve into the mechanisms through which the African swine fever virus (ASFV) infiltrates and replicates within swine cells, a crucial step in understanding and combatting the deadly disease, Pig World reported.


Although ASFV poses no direct threat to human health, its impact on the swine industry has been profound, with farmers forced to cull unprecedented numbers of swine to contain its spread.


With reports indicating ASFV presence in domestic swine across 27 European countries, the virus's mortality rate, reaching up to 100%, underscores the urgency of research efforts.


Under the leadership of Professor Finn Werner, scientists at the UCL Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology have made significant strides in unravelling the activation of ASFV genes within pig cells.


A study published in Nature Communications outlines the assembly of ASFV RNA proteins into an "active complex," shedding light on gene expression and mRNA production mechanisms.


Utilizing cryo-electron microscopy, which captures biomolecular movements and interactions, researchers have achieved unprecedented levels of molecular structure resolution, enabling deeper insights into ASFV RNA dynamics.


This newfound understanding empowers scientists at Pirbright to explore the intricacies of ASFV replication post-infection, crucial for developing targeted interventions.


Dr Linda Dixon and Dr Chris Netherton, co-leads at Pirbright, emphasised the significance of studying virus-host cell interactions, citing its pivotal role in devising disease control strategies.


The identification of ASFV RNA polymerase structure and its activity marks a pivotal advancement, facilitating accelerated screening of antiviral compounds for effective ASFV management.


Pirbright's forthcoming contributions involve identifying additional viral and host factors influencing ASFV gene expression and packaging, essential for decoding the virus's replication cycle and identifying potential targets for intervention.


-      Pig World

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