Expression of the Nodamura virus B2 protein in human and mouse cell lines suppresses the accumulation of a unique class of non-coding small RNAs derived from the chikungunya virus genome. Significant decreases in virus replication correlates well with B2-mediated suppression of these non-coding RNAs.
We suspect that the non-coding RNAs identified by our studies are similar to short viral leader RNAs (leRNAs) previously identified only in the genomes of negative-strand viruses. leRNAs are believed to be essential to the replication of the negative-strand viruses from which they have been identified. Our discovery of leRNAs derived from chikungunya virus, which is a positive-strand virus, suggests these non-coding RNAs may be present in a broad spectrum or even all RNA viruses.
The Nodamura virus B2 protein has tremendous potential for development as a broad spectrum antiviral.