Covalent attachment of saturated fatty acids (palmitate and stearate) to hemagglutinin (HA) of influenza virus is a protein modification essential for viral replication. The enzymes catalysing acylation of viral proteins have not been identified, but likely candidates that acylate cellular substrates are members of a protein family that contain a DHHC (Asp-His-His-Cys) cysteine-rich domain. Since 23 DHHC-proteins with distinct, only partly overlapping substrate specificities are present in humans, only a few of them might acylate HA in airway cells of the lung. We argue here that these DHHC-proteins might be promising drug targets since their blockade should result in suppression of viral replication, while acylation of cellular proteins will not be (or very little) compromised.
Keywords: DHHC-protein; Drug target; HA; Influenza virus; M2; Palmitoylation.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.