Paper by Yannick Stahl and Ralf Bartenschlager published in the journal Nature Communications
Chronic hepatitis C and COVID-19 currently pose major medical challenges and are responsible for millions of deaths. Both diseases are caused by viral infections. Chronic hepatitis C is caused by a persistent infection with the hepatitis C virus, while COVID-19 is due to acute infection with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus‑2 (SARS-CoV‑2). Both viruses are biologically very different from each other but have a few things in common.
The viruses both have single-stranded RNA genomes with positive polarity that is replicated in membranous vesicles in the cytoplasm of infected cells.
So far, lipids driving the formation of these membrance vesicles are largely unexplored. In their paper, the team, with the collaboration of Yannick Stahl and Ralf Bartenschlager, shows that the production of the lipid phosphatidic acid (PA) by the enzyme acylglycerolphosphate acyltransferase is important for the biogenesis of the membrance vesicles in viral replication.
Host-directed therapy targeting phosphatidic acid synthesis pathways may thus offer new approaches for therapeutic interventions in order to better fight COVID-19 and hepatitis C.
Congratulations to Yannick Stahl and Ralf Bartenschlager!