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Scientists Unveil Structure of Adenovirus 20

Posted by timothy
from the after-the-unveiling-is-the-fun-part dept.
An anonymous reader contributes this snippet from Medical News Daily, which begins a story of some interesting medical detective work: "After more than a decade of research, Scripps Research Institute scientists have pieced together the structure of a human adenovirus—the largest complex ever determined at atomic resolution. The new findings about the virus, which causes respiratory, eye, and gastrointestinal infections, may lead to more effective gene therapy and to new anti-viral drugs."
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Scientists Unveil Structure of Adenovirus

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  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @01:01PM (#33403938)
    Found some tasty information for those who are inclined to produce their own 3D model of a human adenovirus. Gives some juicy details that the linked article doesn't. A quasi-atomic model of human adenovirus type 5 capsid [nih.gov]
  • Well, at the least we can give immortality (assuming you count those as alife in the first place) to our pathogens...

    On the second thought, we're quite good at providing this for a long time.

  • by mattr (78516) <mattr AT telebody DOT com> on Saturday August 28, 2010 @01:34PM (#33404148) Homepage Journal

    The TFA is quite interesting and seems to have been a real heroic quest. They haven't completed it to the last little bit, as it is highly resistant in places. Quite a mammoth!

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      The TFA is quite interesting and seems to have been a real heroic quest. They haven't completed it to the last little bit, as it is highly resistant in places. Quite a mammoth!

      Wait til they weaponize it. Where's your technology now?

  • by structural_biologist (1122693) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @03:24PM (#33404784)

    The Aug 27 issue of Science, in which the x-ray crystallography study from Scripps appears, actually pubished two papers that describe the structure of adenovirus. The two papers use different techniques to achieve the same ends: the study from the researchers at Scripps grew crystals of the virus and studdied the x-ray diffraction patterns to deduce the structure of the virus. The other paper, done in collaboration between researches at UCLA and Xiangtan University in China, used a technique called cryo-electron microscopy. In this technique, the researchers freeze samples of the virus and use an electron microscope to take tens of thousands of pictures of different viruses within their samples. Although the pictures only give 2D projections of the virus structure, the individual electron microscopy images show the virus from different perspectives. By computationally aligning the images, they can reconstruct the 3 dimensional structure of the virus from the many 2D images taken. While this technique avoids the inherent difficulties of producing crystals (a process that can take decades for some samples), until very recently it has been difficult to achieve high resolution structures using this method. The cryo-EM adenovirus structure is one of only a handful of atomic resolution cryo-EM structures that have been solved to date.

    While both studies are very informative and represent scientific tours de force for their respective techniques, it is interesting that the Medical Daily focuses only on the x-ray crystallography study from Scripps. Indeed, in a commentary published by Science that accompanies the articles, Prof. Stephen Harrison of Harvard Medical School (the first person to describe the full structure of a virus) writes that, "Indeed, the cryo-EM density map of Liu et al. appears to be substantially clearer and more interpretable than the x-ray density map of Reddy et al." Perhaps Medical Daily needs to do a better job of doing their homework.

    The cryo-EM study is available at the following link (subscription required): http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/329/5995/1038 [sciencemag.org]

    • by the gnat (153162) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @04:22PM (#33405072)

      While this technique avoids the inherent difficulties of producing crystals (a process that can take decades for some samples), until very recently it has been difficult to achieve high resolution structures using this method. The cryo-EM adenovirus structure is one of only a handful of atomic resolution cryo-EM structures that have been solved to date.

      A large part of the reason why this is possible is the high internal symmetry of viral particles; I think all of the atomic-resolution cryo-EM structures so far have also been of highly symmetric structures like bacterial chaperonins, or other viruses. (The same symmetry also makes crystallography easier, for different reasons.) The only other EM structure that I'm aware of at better than 4 Angstrom resolution is also of a virus, published a few months ago by the same group at UCLA. For highly asymmetric structures such as ribosomes, crystallography is still far ahead of EM as far as resolution is concerned - although the bottleneck of crystallization remains a major problem.

      it is interesting that the Medical Daily focuses only on the x-ray crystallography study from Scripps. . . Perhaps Medical Daily needs to do a better job of doing their homework.

      If you scroll to the end of the story, you'll see "Provided by Scripps Research Institute" in tiny gray letters. It's just a press release from Scripps, in other words - standard operating procedure for research institutions when someone scores a high-profile article.

    • by oldhack (1037484)
      Poking around Medical Daily, it seems to be a straight-up PR operation. It's been spamming slashdot with some frequency.
  • New antiviral, Nice maybe this can start a new aids solution or at least bring us closer to a point where we can start on new solutions.
    • New antiviral, Nice maybe this can start a new aids solution or at least bring us closer to a point where we can start on new solutions.

      Adenoviruses themselves were used in genetic engineering/treatment as carrier molecules to genetic material that aims at replacing a faulty one in the cell for example. These viruses DNAs are inherently double stranded and they don't incorporate themselves in the cell DNA, hence, upon cell duplication the viruses are lost. While this is an obstacle in introducing persisting genetic therapy and that re-administration of the correct DNA-laden virus is warranted this could also explain why infections caused by

  • Viruses such as adenovirus and rhinovirus affect mucous membranes.
    The urinary tract has mucous membranes. Adenovirus urethritis in men is ~exquisitely~ painful.

    Moral of the story: your wang getting a 'head cold' isn't fun, if she has the sniffles then she should watch her oral intake.

    -IAAD

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader

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