IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


27th September, 2023 Health

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Context: The researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Bhopal have made a significant discovery related to circular RNA (circRNA) and its role in HIV-1 replication.

Key Highlights

  • Identification of ciTRAN: The researchers used a specialized technique called direct RNA nanopore sequencing (circDR-Seq) to capture circRNAs from HIV-1-infected T cells. During this process, they identified a specific circular RNA called ciTRAN.
  • ciTRAN and HIV-1 transcription: The study found that ciTRAN plays a role in modulating HIV-1 transcription, which is the process by which the virus replicates itself within host cells.
  • Hijacking of ciTRAN: HIV-1 infection induces the expression of ciTRAN in a manner that depends on the presence of HIV-1 viral protein R (VpR). CiTRAN, in turn, interacts with a protein called serine/arginine-rich splicing factor 1 (SRSF1), which is known to repress HIV-1 transcription. Essentially, the virus hijacks ciTRAN to prevent SRSF1 from inhibiting its replication.
  • Development of inhibitory molecules: The researchers also created a molecule inspired by SRSF1 that can inhibit viral transcription, even in the presence of ciTRAN. This molecule interferes with the virus's ability to replicate efficiently.


  • This discovery sheds light on a previously unknown mechanism by which HIV-1 overcomes obstacles to transmission. By hijacking host-encoded ciTRAN and interfering with the function of SRSF1, the virus promotes its replication within host cells.
  • Understanding the role of ciTRAN and its interaction with SRSF1 opens up potential avenues for the development of novel drugs and therapies to combat HIV-1. By targeting these specific mechanisms, researchers may be able to develop more effective treatments for HIV-1 infection.


  • The research conducted at IISER Bhopal has unveiled a new aspect of HIV-1 replication involving circular RNA and its interaction with host proteins. This knowledge could ultimately lead to innovative approaches in the ongoing battle against HIV-1.

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HIV: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/hiv-21


Q. The term “ciTRAN” is frequently seen in the news, it is related to:

A) A protein involved in HIV-1 replication

B) A type of linear RNA

C) A specific circular RNA

D) A gene associated with cancer

Answer: C