Combating viruses with RACK1: Congratulations to Dr. Hemayet Ullah

GNOBB would like to express its heartiest congratulations to Dr. Hemayet Ullah for his recent publication on identification of functional inhibitor compounds of scaffold protein RACK1 that could inhibit the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) proliferation. Dr. Ullah, an associate professor at Department of Biology of Howard University, USA and his team has been working on the plant scaffold protein RACK1 for long time. The peer reviewed journal Oncotarget has highlighted this recent work on identification of inhibitory molecules against RACK1 on their cover page of the May issue realizing its importance. This opens up the possibility of future drugs that can offer effective and durable treatment for pathogenic viruses like HIV-1, hepatitis C, polio, drosophila, c (DCV), Dengue, Cricket paralysis (CrpV), vaccinia etc. Development of antiviral drug is challenging due to the rapid evolution of viral genes. Viruses need host factor(s) that help in translation of their transcripts and by inhibiting these host factors, it is possible to develop durable antiviral drugs. RACK1 or Receptor for Activated C kinase 1 is one such factor that helps in the translation of viral mRNA in association with the internal ribosomal entry site (IRES) of viral mRNA secondary structure. Earlier, the team developed crystal structure of RACK1A protein from model plant Arabidopsis and identified dozens of small compounds that can inhibit RACK1A by binding to a functional domain of the protein. This open up a wide opportunity for using these drugs as antiviral agent since a lots of viruses including the named ones above are reported to use the host RACK1 protein and the IRES-based translation system. The article can be found here (    As the same RACK1 protein is implicated in the cancer cell metastasis (, the compounds are also patented, with evidence,  as anti-metastasis drugs. GNOBB wishes the team best for the wonderful work envisioning development of antiviral agents against more viruses that are hard to treat.

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