September 18, 2005
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Researchers have determined the first detailed molecular images of a piece of the spike-shaped protein that the SARS virus uses to grab host cells and initiate the first stages of infection. The structure, which shows how the spike protein grasps its receptor, may help scientists learn new details about how the virus infects cells. The information could also be helpful in identifying potential weak points that can be exploited by novel antiviral drugs or vaccines.
One of the key steps in SARS infection occurs when a protein from the virus attaches to a receptor on the surface of a target host cell. Once attached, the virus fuses with the host cell and injects its RNA into the cell. In this rendering, a protein fragment from the SARS virus, shown in blue and red, attaches to an ACE2 protein, which serves as the targeted host cell's receptor. The red area of the protein indicates the loop that contacts ACE2.
Credit: Image courtesy of Children's Hospital Boston
The above story is based on materials provided by Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "Learning How SARS Spikes Its Quarry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050917091104.htm>.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute. (2005, September 18). Learning How SARS Spikes Its Quarry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 8, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050917091104.htm
Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "Learning How SARS Spikes Its Quarry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050917091104.htm (accessed March 8, 2014).