Researchers from EMBL Grenoble are the first to have observed different functional states of the influenza virus polymerase as it is actively transcribing. The finding, published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, could help in the development of the next generation of anti-influenza drugs.
The team, led by Stephen Cusack began studying influenza polymerase more than 20 years ago and in 2014, published the first crystal structures of the complete polymerase machine. Attempts to structurally characterize the different states of actively transcribing influenza polymerase have been unsuccessful so far, however.
In their latest work, the researchers made use of X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy, both performed on state-of-the-art equipment at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, and were able to determine atomic-resolution structures of different functional states of the influenza polymerase as it is actively transcribing genomic RNA into mRNA.
Reference: Kouba, T, Drncová, P, and Cusack, S. Structural snapshots of actively transcribing influenza polymerase. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 10.1038/s41594-019-0232-z