Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Research reveals how antibodies neutralize mosquito-borne virus

Researchers have learned the precise structure of the mosquito-transmitted chikungunya virus pathogen while it is bound to antibodies, showing how the infection is likely neutralized.

The findings could help researchers develop effective vaccines against the infection, which causes symptoms similar to dengue fever, followed by a prolonged disease that affects the joints and causes severe arthritis. In recent outbreaks, some cases progressed to fatal encephalitis.

The researchers studied "virus-like particles," or non-infectious forms of the virus. They also obtained near atomic-scale resolution of the virus attached to four separate antibodies.

"We knew these antibodies neutralize the real virus, so we wanted to know how they do it," said Michael Rossmann, Purdue University's Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences.

Findings are detailed in a research paper appearing Tuesday (April 2) in the journal eLife.

The scientists used a technique called cryoelectron microscopy to uncover critical structural details about the virus-like particles bound to the antibodies. The particles are made of 180 "heterodimers," molecules made of two proteins: envelope protein 1, or E1, and envelope protein 2, or E2.
The findings show the precise structure of the virus-like particle bound to a key part of the antibodies, called the antigen binding fragment, or Fab, which attaches to the heterodimers making up the virus's outer shell. The analyses showed that the antibodies stabilize the viral surface, hindering fusion to the host cell and likely neutralizing infection.

Chikungunya is an alphavirus, a family of viruses that includes eastern equine encephalitis.

"This is the first time the structure of an alphavirus has been examined in this detail," Rossmann said.

The research is aimed at learning precisely how viruses infect humans and other hosts, knowledge that may lead to better vaccines and antiviral drugs, Rossmann said.

Chikungunya in 2005 caused an epidemic on Réunion Island. A mutation in the E1 protein has allowed the virus to replicate more efficiently, which is considered the primary reason for its recent extensive spread, infecting millions of people in Africa and Asia.
The paper was co-authored by Purdue researchers Siyang Sun and Ye Xiang, Akahata Wataru of the National Institutes of Health, Heather Holdaway of Purdue, Pankaj Pal of the Washington University School of Medicine, Xinzheng Zhang of Purdue, Michael S. Diamond of the Washington University School of Medicine, Gary J. Nabel of the NIH, and Rossmann.

The research team conducted experiments to record the structure of the virus in different orientations and obtained a three-dimensional structure with a resolution of 5.3 Ångstroms, or 5.3 ten-billionths of a meter.
The research, funded by the NIH, is ongoing and involves one graduate student and five postdoctoral students. One goal is to learn how the virus is modified when the antibodies bind to the virus and to obtain higher-resolution images.

Writer: Emil Venere, 765-494-4709,

Source: Michael Rossmann, 765-494-4911,
Note to Journalists: Journalists may obtain a copy of the research paper by contacting Emil Venere, 765-494-4709,


Structural Analyses at Pseudo Atomic Resolution of Chikungunya Virus and Antibodies Show Mechanisms of Neutralization
Siyang Sun1,4, Ye Xiang1,4, Akahata Wataru2, Heather Holdaway1,5, Pankaj Pal3, Xinzheng Zhang1, Michael S. Diamond3, Gary J. Nabel2, Michael G Rossmann1,* (1 Dept of Biological Sciences, Purdue University; 2 Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; 3 Departments of Medicine, Molecular Microbiology, Pathology & Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine; 4 These authors contributed equally to this work)

* Corresponding author. Department of Biological Sciences, 240 S. Martin Jischke Drive, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2032, USA. Tel.: +1 765-494-4911; Fax: +1 765-496-1189; E-mail:

A 5.3 Å resolution, cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) map of Chikungunya virus-like particles (VLPs) has been interpreted using the previously published crystal structure of the Chikungunya E1-E2 glycoprotein heterodimer. The heterodimer structure was divided into domains to obtain a good fit to the cryoEM density. Differences in the T=4 quasi equivalent heterodimer components show their adaptation to different environments. The spikes on the icosahedral 3-fold axes and those in general positions are significantly different to each other, possibly representing different phases during initial generation of fusogenic E1 trimers.

CryoEM maps of neutralizing Fab fragments complexed with VLPs have been interpreted using the crystal structures of the Fab fragments and the VLP structure. Based on these analyses the CHK-152 antibody was shown to stabilize the viral surface, hindering the exposure of the fusion-loop, likely neutralizing infection by blocking fusion. The CHK-9, m10 and m242 antibodies surround the receptor-attachment site, probably inhibiting infection by blocking cell attachment.

Emil Venere | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>