Prenylation of HDAg and Antiviral Drug Development
Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is an important cause of acute and chronic liver disease. Current medical therapies are unable to effectively eradicate HDV infections. Research into the molecular virology of the HDV life cycle has revealed a fascinating collection of biology. These insights are now beginning to be translated into new potential treatment strategies. For example, an essential step in the virus assembly process involves the post-translational lipid modification of a specific HDV protein, namely prenylation of large delta antigen. Preventing prenylation abolishes virus particle formation. Drugs capable of specifically inhibiting prenylation have been developed for use in humans. These agents represent a new class of antiviral agents, with HDV as a first target. Here, a brief review of the HDV life cycle emphasizing the role of prenylation is presented along with implications for drug development and therapy.
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