IIT Mandi Team Identifies Dark Regions In The Proteins Of Chikungunya Virus

Dr Rajanish Giri, Assistant Professor of Biotechnology, IIT Mandi with his research team

Mandi, Himachal Pradesh: 

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi today said its researchers have identified dark regions in the proteins of Chikungunya Virus, which could help understand molecular basis of infection and has implications in designing drugs to treat Chikungunya. 

The IIT Mandi research was undertaken by Dr Rajanish Giri, Assistant Professor of Biotechnology, School of Basic Sciences, and is aimed at understanding the structure and action of the Chikungunya Virus (CHIKV) through computational studies.

Assisted by his research scholars, Mr Ankur Singh, Mr Ankur Kumar and Ms Rakhi Yadav, Dr Giri collaborated with Dr Vladimir Uversky from University of South Florida in unravelling the un-structural biology or the dark proteome of the virus through computational studies. 

Further, the group has also identified the molecular recognition features (MoRF) of the virus. 

These findings have recently been published in the Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group) and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s open access journal, RSC Advances.

“The pathogenic mechanism of arthropod-borne CHIKV is not fully understood as yet because of the sacristy of information about the structure and non-structure of the viral proteins. Our Research seeks to fill this gap in knowledge,” Dr Giri said.

“We believe that the analysis of the MoRF-based interactions of CHIKV proteins could help in understanding the molecular mechanisms of the pathogenicity of this virus,” he added.

The team used multiple computational tools to identify the MoRFs in the proteins of the CHIKV. 

The team found that all CHIKV proteins have at least one MoRF crucial for signaling events during survival and pathogenesis of the virus. 

Dr. Giri is hopeful that once all the molecular mechanisms of CHIKV proteins are deciphered and protein-protein interactions are understood, there would be a better path towards design of specific drug molecules that can act against this virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than 1.5 million deaths worldwide are caused by viral infections every year. Given that there are 320,000 mammalian viruses that can potentially infect human beings, man’s hope of preventing and treating virus-borne diseases hinges on rigorous research enterprise.

Chikungunya Virus is a mosquito-transmitted pathogen that has caused epidemic outbreaks in Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and the Americas in recent years.

This is the second major breakthrough from India this week in regard to Chikungunya treatment. A recent study from IIT Roorkee professors Shailly Tomar and Pravindra Kumar from the Department of Biotechnology, have shown that a protein found in tamarind seeds has antiviral properties and can potentially be used to develop antiviral medication for chikungunya.

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