A team from the UAB Department of Microbiology has revealed the most detailed images to date of a bullet-shaped virus that gives researches important clues to fighting infection and understanding disease progression.
The 3-D pictures of the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) are based on a scientific model using X-ray crystallography at UAB’s Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering and cryo-electron microscopy at the University of California, Los Angeles.
|3-D pictures of the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) are based on a scientific model using X-ray crystallography at UAB’s Center for Biophysical Sciences and Engineering and cryo-electron microscopy at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The landmark pictures, published Feb. 5 in the journal Science, reveal a biological shape and organizational sequence that has been sought for more than three decades, said UAB Professor Ming Luo, Ph.D, the principal investigator on the virus grant.
“Knowing the process by which VSV is constructed using a very limited number of genes will enable us to find new ways to stop the assembly of viral particles and eventually stop certain viral infections,” Luo said. “VSV is an established model for studying and understanding RNA viruses, which include viruses that cause influenza, measles and rabies.
The new 3-D pictures could help lead to advances in the development of VSV-based vaccines for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other infections that contribute to immune disorders. The findings also reveal clues about how the bullet shape can be genetically modified to serve as an anti-cancer agent by killing tumor cells and avoiding healthy tissue, Lou said.
Structures of individual viral proteins have been reported, but how VSV organizes into a bullet shape has remained unclear until now. The new images propose a model of a bullet head starting at a pointed tip, the*n layers of sub-unit proteins in a sturdy spiral cylinder.
The research teams at UAB and UCLA hope to reveal in further detail atomic-scale viral interactions and explore VSV gene changes that might prove clinically useful. The work is a supported by a National Institutes of Health grant to UAB.