Filoviruses, which include Ebola virus (EBOV) and Marburg virus, are negative-sense RNA viruses associated with sporadic outbreaks of severe viral hemorrhagic fever characterized by uncontrolled virus replication. The extreme virulence and emerging nature of these zoonotic pathogens make them a significant threat to human health. Replication of the filovirus genome and production of viral RNAs require the function of a complex of four viral proteins, the nucleoprotein (NP), viral protein 35 (VP35), viral protein 30 (VP30) and large protein (L). The latter performs the enzymatic activities required for production of viral RNAs and capping of viral mRNAs. Although it has been recognized that interactions between the virus-encoded components of the EBOV RNA polymerase complex are required for viral RNA synthesis reactions, specific molecular details have, until recently, been lacking. New efforts have combined structural biology and molecular virology to reveal in great detail the molecular basis for critical protein-protein interactions (PPIs) necessary for viral RNA synthesis. These efforts include recent studies that have identified a range of interacting host factors and in some instances demonstrated unique mechanisms by which they act. For a select number of these interactions, combined use of mutagenesis, over-expressing of peptides corresponding to PPI interfaces and identification of small molecules that disrupt PPIs have demonstrated the functional significance of virus-virus and virus-host PPIs and suggest several as potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
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