Drugs as Molecular Tools
Chemotherapeutic agents such as acyclovir and zidovudine have been extremely useful in treating patients with herpes simplex virus infections or AIDS, respectively. However, there is another scientific use for drugs or compounds which is to use them as molecular tools in the research laboratory in order to dissect the replication of viruses and to discover new facts about viruses. For example, alpha-amanitin, an inhibitor of the cellular DNA-dependent RNA polymerase II (Pol II), is used to define whether a particular virus RNA species is synthesized with the involvement of Pol II or solely by viral polymerases. With herpesviruses, cycloheximide, an inhibitor of protein synthesis, is used to define the “immediate early” class of viral genes. If a viral RNA is synthesized in the presence of cycloheximide, then the synthesis of that viral RNA is not dependent on the synthesis of any viral protein and that viral gene can be classified as immediate early. Arabinosyl cytosine (AraC) is an anticancer/antiherpesvirus drug which inhibits DNA synthesis in cell culture systems but allows RNA and protein synthesis to proceed. One can ask whether the replication of an RNA virus is dependent on cellular DNA synthesis by determining if virus replication is sensitive to AraC. These examples demonstrate how chemotherapeutic agents can be used as molecular tools in the research laboratory.
KeywordsBinding Affinity Antiviral Activity Molecular Tool Hydrophobic Pocket Herpes Simplex Virus Infection
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