Scientists at The Wistar Institute, working in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Helsinki, have discovered structural similarities among viruses that infect hosts from all three domains of life. These structural similarities suggest that the viruses, despite their genomic variations and differences in hosts, may have evolved from a common ancestor billions of years ago. The findings will be published in the December 3 issue of Molecular Cell.
Until recently, scientists have tended to view the viral universe as unrelated families of viruses, with little attention given to their similarities. "People tended to concentrate on a single type of virus," says Roger M. Burnett, Ph.D., senior author of the study and professor in Wistars immunology program. "It hadnt been appreciated until a few years ago that there are great structural similarities among seemingly unrelated viruses."
The research builds on earlier work by Burnett and his colleagues, in which they determined the structure of a virus called PRD1 that infects bacteria. They found that it has remarkable structural similarities to human adenoviruses, which cause various diseases, including respiratory infections. Using data from their own and other laboratories, the researchers have created structure-based models to demonstrate structural similarities in the coats--proteins and architecture--among viruses that infect hosts from all three domains of life. The three domains are eukarya (animals, plants, and other higher order organisms); bacteria; and archaea (a recently described group of microorganisms that differ from bacteria and are commonly found in extreme environments like geysers, and alkaline, acidic or salty waters).
Franklin Hoke | EurekAlert!
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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