Flinn Scholars News
ASU, MIT researchers close in on role of Z-DNA
ASU and MIT teams draw closer to grasping Z-DNA--and to a potential smallpox cure.
Research teams from Arizona State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taken a vital step in understanding of the role of Z-DNA, knowledge that could potentially lead to a cure for smallpox.
According to a paper scheduled for publication by the National Academy of Sciences, Z-DNA (a zigzag, left-coiled form of DNA) is involved in cellular defense against viral attack. The finding is based on experiments with vaccinia, a virus similar to smallpox. Experiments showed that E3L, a pox virus protein that plays a key role in disabling animal cell defenses, appears to work by binding to Z-DNA and interfering with its operation.
This improved understanding could lead to development of new anti-viral drugs effective against smallpox.
The paper, entitled "A role for Z-DNA binding in vaccinia virus athogenesis," was authored by Yang-Gyun Kim, Ky Lowenhaupt, and Alexander Rich from MIT, and Bertram L. Jacobs, Maneesha Muralinath, Teresa Brandt, Matthew Pearcy, and Kevin Hauns from ASU.
"Researchers at ASU help unlock DNA," The Arizona Republic, 5/21/2003
"Virus researchers close in on the secret life of DNA," ASU News & Information, 5/20/2003