[Israeli scientists have accidentally] discovered for the first time an instance of viruses leaving messages for other viruses.
Viruses attack bacteria in two ways. Most of the time they enter the bacterial cell and take over its machinery to multiply until the cell explodes and dies. Sometimes, however, they simply inject their genome into the bacteria, waiting for an environmental cue to reawaken and multiply later.
[Rotem Sorek of Weizmann Institute of Science] has found the protein that viruses used to communicate. His team has called the protein arbitrium, which is Latin for “decision.”
Sorek believes that when the levels of arbitrium build up, viruses switch their strategy from killing their host cells to injecting their genome.
What’s more intriguing, however, is that Sorek found signs of many more types of arbitrium-like proteins…The possibility of tapping into viral communication has many scientists excited, because it offers new ways to build drugs that could defeat viruses.
[The study can be found here.]
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