Viruses Act Like 'Self-Packing Suitcases' 

Researchers have identified a crucial stage in the replication of picornaviruses by observing at a single-molecule level how the virus genome that forms the core of a single-strand RNA virus particle packs itself into its outer shell of proteins. PNAS: http://www.pnas.org/content/109/39/15769 
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2 Responses to Viruses Act Like 'Self-Packing Suitcases' 

  1. Ed Rybicki says:

    You know, one of the things about having been in the field for a long time – and having had an interest in virus assembly / disassembly – is that you see things coming around again, 35+ years on.

    When I started teaching, one of the things I lectured on was MS2 and bromovirus self-assembly – and it was known in the early 1980s that both of these exhibited specificity in terms of initial high-affinity binding of CP at low concentrations to genomic ssRNA, followed by slower, lower affinity association of the “nucleated assembly complex” (called Complex I in the case of MS2) and more CP as the concentration was increased.

    So essentially, what these guys have done is an extension of work done 30+ years ago, using modern methods that are able to show that the initial complex formation is a condensation of the ssRNA, as a result of sequence-specific interactions with the CP. Cool! But not unexpected, IF you’ve been around long enough.

    PS: we used to fake TMV self assembly for student practicals by using purified coat protein alone: all you did was change the pH, and then stick a cuvette in a UV spec with the wavelength for a scan set at 320 nm, and watch the light scattering increase over time.

  2. AJ Cann says:

    And we still don’t have that generic anti-picornavirus packaging drug that will cure the common cold.

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