WORCESTER, MA – Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) have performed the first CRISPR/Cas9 screen to discover human proteins that Zika virus needs for replication. This work, led by Abraham Brass, MD, PhD, assistant professor in microbiology & physiological systems, reveals new leads that may be useful for halting Zika, dengue and other emerging viral infections. The study appears online in the journal Cell Reports.
“These genetic screens give us our first look at what these viruses need to survive,” said Dr. Brass. “Our lab and others in our field have worked hard to develop the systems and infrastructure needed to investigate the genetics underlying how viral pathogens use our own cell’s machinery to replicate. This has allowed the scientific community to respond quickly when the Zika virus threat emerged. In our lab, we adapted the technology and tools we’d established over the last four years working with other viruses to begin investigating the biology of Zika virus.”