Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mechanism that helps viruses spread explained

Date:
June 9, 2014
Source:
University of Colorado Denver
Summary:
Researchers explain how RNA molecules found in certain viruses mimic the shape of other molecules as part of a strategy to 'hijack' the cell and make more viruses. Viruses are worldwide threats to health and agriculture. To multiply, viruses infect a cell and take over that cell's biochemical machinery. Thus, understanding the fundamental molecular processes used by viruses to conquer cells is important.

In an article published in the scientific journal Nature, a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues explain how RNA molecules found in certain viruses mimic the shape of other molecules as part of a strategy to 'hijack' the cell and make more viruses.

Related Articles


The findings by Jeffrey S. Kieft, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the School of Medicine and an early career scientist with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and his colleagues solve a biochemical and molecular mystery that has confounded scientists for decades.

Viruses are worldwide threats to health and agriculture. To multiply, viruses infect a cell and take over that cell's biochemical machinery. Thus, understanding the fundamental molecular processes used by viruses to conquer cells is important. Among these processes is the ability of molecules created by viruses to 'mimic' the structure and behavior of cellular molecules. The virus' molecular 'Trojan horses' are part of their strategy to take over cells.

The paper describes the three-dimensional structure of a viral RNA that mimics one of the most abundant RNAs found in the cell. It was known for many years that this viral RNA was a molecular mimic. However, how the RNA acts as a mimic, how it switches between different structures, and how it performs multiple tasks was a mystery.

Using a technique called x-ray crystallography, Kieft and colleagues visualized the molecule's complex three-dimensional structure to high resolution. They found that the viral RNA has a 'two-faced' architecture: one face is a mimic of the cell's RNA, the other face is less similar and this probably gives the ability to perform several tasks during infection. This type of behavior may be widespread, thus this research could apply to many different viruses.

This understanding of how a viral RNA can mimic other molecules as part of a strategy to 'hijack' a cell may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines against infectious diseases.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Timothy M. Colussi, David A. Costantino, John A. Hammond, Grant M. Ruehle, Jay C. Nix, Jeffrey S. Kieft. The structural basis of transfer RNA mimicry and conformational plasticity by a viral RNA. Nature, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nature13378

Cite This Page:

University of Colorado Denver. "Mechanism that helps viruses spread explained." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140609140905.htm>.
University of Colorado Denver. (2014, June 9). Mechanism that helps viruses spread explained. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140609140905.htm
University of Colorado Denver. "Mechanism that helps viruses spread explained." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140609140905.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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