Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New findings detail how a virus prepares to infect cells

Date:
December 2, 2010
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
Researchers have learned the atomic-scale arrangement of proteins in a structure that enables a virus to invade and fuse with host cells, showing precisely how the structure morphs with changing acidity to initiate infection.

This diagram depicts how the changing arrangement of proteins in a key structure enables viruses to invade and fuse with host cells.
Credit: Purdue University Department of Biological Sciences image/Long Li

Researchers have learned the atomic-scale arrangement of proteins in a structure that enables a virus to invade and fuse with host cells, showing precisely how the structure morphs with changing acidity to initiate infection.

Findings from a team at Purdue University showed the protein structure in an acidic environment, and another team from the Pasteur Institute showed the same structure in a neutral environment. When combined, the two studies illustrate what happens to the structure as a virus enters and then prepares to fuse with a host cell, critical steps leading to infection.

"These findings represent a milestone," said Michael Rossmann, Purdue's Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, who is working with Long Li, a postdoctoral researcher in his lab, and Joyce Jose, a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Richard Kuhn, a professor and head of Purdue's Department of Biological Sciences.

The research is aimed at learning precisely how viruses infect humans and other hosts, knowledge that may lead to better vaccines and antiviral drugs, Rossmann said.

Findings from the Purdue and Pasteur Institute studies are detailed in two papers appearing in the journal Nature on Dec. 2. The Purdue paper was written by Li, Jose, postdoctoral researcher Ye Xiang, Kuhn and Rossmann.

The researchers studied alphaviruses, a family of viruses that includes eastern equine encephalitis and chikungunya viruses, which are transmitted by mosquitoes and sometimes ticks. The work focused on two "envelope proteins" making up 80 spikelike structures protruding from the outer shell of the viruses.

"The spikes have all the machinery for infecting a cell," Rossmann said.

Researchers have known the structure of envelop protein 1, or E1, for several years. The Purdue researchers have now determined the structure of envelope protein 2 and the precise atomic-scale architecture of the combined E1-E2 complex. Scientists had previously determined general characteristics about E2, such as its location in the protein complex, but they did not know its structure until now.

E2, a receptor-binding protein, enables the virus to initially attach to and enter host cells where the virus encounters an acidic environment that induces changes in the structure of the protein complex. These changes expose a portion of E1 required to fuse the virus with the cell membrane, leading to the formation of a "fusion pore" through which the virus's genetic material is transferred into the host cell. Once infected, the host cell then produces new virus particles.

The researchers learned the shape of E2's three "domains," showing how E2 displaces one of these domains when in an acidic environment, allowing fusion with the cell membrane. The scientists used advanced imaging technologies, including cryoelectron microscopy and X-ray crystallography, to uncover critical structural details about the viruses.

Purdue researchers led by Rossmann and Kuhn have been studying alphaviruses for about 15 years, in work based at Purdue's Markey Center for Structural Biology.

The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Purdue also is leading a team of researchers in a federally funded effort aimed ultimately at developing better vaccines and antiviral drugs against alphaviruses and flaviviruses, a family that includes West Nile and dengue.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Long Li, Joyce Jose, Ye Xiang, Richard J. Kuhn, Michael G. Rossmann. Structural changes of envelope proteins during alphavirus fusion. Nature, 2010; 468 (7324): 705 DOI: 10.1038/nature09546

Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "New findings detail how a virus prepares to infect cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201134207.htm>.
Purdue University. (2010, December 2). New findings detail how a virus prepares to infect cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201134207.htm
Purdue University. "New findings detail how a virus prepares to infect cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101201134207.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins