June 24, 2008
Detailed Image of a Viral Protein Created
U.S. scientists using electron microscopy and 3-D computer reconstruction say they have produced the most detailed image yet of a viral protein envelope.
The University of California-San Diego researchers said the image -- showing the protein envelope of an asymmetrical virus and its viral DNA at a resolution of less than 1 nanometer -- will help determine how the virus locks onto its host and infects the cells by injecting its DNA.
A comparison between images of the virus with and without its DNA cargo revealed the DNA twists tightly into a doughnut shape in the neck of the virus between its head and tail, the researchers said.
This highly distorted DNA structure is unlike anything previously seen or even predicted in a virus, said Baker.
The researchers, including molecular virologist Dwight Anderson at the University of Minnesota, report their research in the journal Structure.