Virology Weekly Newsletter 08.02.2013 – Virus Particles

Principles of molecular virology Students taking my virology course at the University of Leicester get a weekly newsletter containing extra links relevant to the lectures. This week we have been looking at virus structure and the class notes are from Principles of Molecular Virology, chapter 2.




TMV Reconstitution of active tobacco mosaic virus from its inactive protein and nucleic acid components. (1955) PNAS USA 41: 690–698
The original paper showing that a virus particle can form from the information contained in the structural components alone, without any extra information being present.
Note that some viruses, unlike TMV, do use additional scaffolding proteins which are required to catalyse, regulate or modulate some step in particle assembly (Scaffolding proteins and their role in viral assembly. (1999) Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 56(7): 580-603).

8 strand beta barrel Virus evolution: how far does the double β-barrel viral lineage extend? (2008) Nature Reviews Microbiology, 6(12): 941-948
“During the past few years one of the most astonishing findings in the field of virology has been the realization that viruses that infect hosts from all three domains of life are often structurally similar. The recent burst of structural information points to a need to create a new way to organize the virosphere that, in addition to the current classification, would reflect relationships between virus families.”


Icosahedral symmetry:


Lecture on virus structure by Vincent Racaniello:

Calicivirus Atomic Model of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus by Cryo-Electron Microscopy and Crystallography. (2013) PLoS Pathog 9(1): e1003132
Researchers have used hybrid structural approaches (cryo-electron microscopy and crystallography) to construct a pseudo-atomic model of Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV, which belongs to the genus belongs to the Lagovirus genus in the family Caliciviridae) that reveals significant differences in the major capsid protein compared to that seen in other caliciviruses. This model provides a structural framework for developing new anti-RHDV vaccines and will also help guide use of the RHDV capsid as a vehicle to display human tumor antigens as part of anti-tumor therapy.



Vaccinia virus Cryo-electron tomography of vaccinia virus. (2005) PNAS USA, 102(8): 2772-2777
The combination of cryo-microscopy and electron tomographic reconstruction has allowed us to determine the structure of one of the more complex viruses, intracellular mature vaccinia virus, at a resolution of 4-6 nm. This cannot be achieved using X-ray diffraction as the structure of an intact poxvirus particle is far too complex to be resolved by this technique.



Mimivirus The three-dimensional structure of Mimivirus. (2010) Intervirology. 53(5): 268-273
About the most complex virus structure known, the size and complexity of Mimivirus is greater than what is usually anticipated for a virus, but might be expected for a small cell.




The next edition of the Virology Weekly Newsletter will be published next Friday.
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