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Unusual Effects On Cell Infected By Virus Found In Boiling Acidic Spring In Yellowstone National Park

Date:
July 28, 2009
Source:
Montana State University
Summary:
Researchers have noted unusual effects on a cell infected by a virus collected from a boiling, acidic spring in Yellowstone.

Scanning electron micrograph of Sulfolobus solfataricus cells infected with a virus, showing pyramid-like structures on the surface of the cell.
Credit: Image courtesy of Montana State University

The June cover of the Journal of Virology features a photograph of the unusual effects on a cell infected by a virus. Montana State University researchers were the first to view the virus, which they collected from a boiling, acidic spring in Yellowstone.

The article describes the researchers' findings about the life cycle of the virus Sulfolobus turreted icosahedral virus (STIV). No one has seen STIV replicate within a host cell prior to the work done by MSU scientists.

"What is really surprising is how the virus gets out of the infected cell," said MSU virologist Mark Young.

STIV forms a pyramid-like projection on the surface of the cell.

"It looks just like the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre," Young said.

Understanding how particular viruses assemble and replicate often leads to new uses for the virus. For example, laboratories run by Young and chemist Trevor Douglas at MSU have demonstrated that viruses can be used for beneficial purposes ranging from creating smart drug delivery and imaging systems to making viruses act as nano-containers for making high performance magnetic materials for the computer industry.

Susan Brumfield, Vincent Ruigrok, Peter Suci, Douglas and Young of MSU and Alice Ortmann of the University of South Alabama, Mobile, investigated the effects of the virus on its host cell.

The pyramid-like projections have not been documented in any other host-virus system, according to the paper's authors. The structures are thought to be at sites where the virus' progeny are released from the cell.

The STIV virus was collected from Yellowstone National Park and brought back to a laboratory at MSU. The extreme environment that STIV lives in had to be replicated in order to keep the virus alive for study.

"Essentially we had to recreate Yellowstone in the lab," said Young.

The virus and its host cells continued to grow in an acid solution that mimics the water of Yellowstone hot springs and in specialized incubators that kept the virus at a toasty 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, the scientists were able to view the virus within its host using a high power electron microscope.

"We can look at the virus inside the cell for the first time," said principle author, Brumfield. "We could watch the construction of the virus in the cell and see how it released itself from the host cell."

"It's really an engineering feat," Young added. "It's kind of like building a house, and we saw it do that inside the cell for the first time."

"We'll continue to look in Yellowstone, and places like Yellowstone around the world," said Young. "Understanding viruses is fundamental work."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Montana State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Montana State University. "Unusual Effects On Cell Infected By Virus Found In Boiling Acidic Spring In Yellowstone National Park." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090717150246.htm>.
Montana State University. (2009, July 28). Unusual Effects On Cell Infected By Virus Found In Boiling Acidic Spring In Yellowstone National Park. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090717150246.htm
Montana State University. "Unusual Effects On Cell Infected By Virus Found In Boiling Acidic Spring In Yellowstone National Park." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090717150246.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

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