Biologists at Purdue University have determined the combined structure of a common-cold virus attached to a molecule that enables the virus to infect its host, information that ultimately may help researchers develop methods for treating certain viral infections.
This composite image shows the combined structure of Coxsackievirus A21 and a "receptor molecule" called ICAM-1, or intracellular adhesion molecule 1. The virus is one of the viruses that causes the common cold, and the receptor molecule enables the virus to attach to and infect host cells. ICAM-1, located on the surfaces of cells, is represented in blue, and the virus is represented as red. Researchers at Purdue University have determined the structure of the virus-molecule complex by combining images taken using X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy. Being able to determine the combined structure of the virus and ICAM-1 may teach scientists how the virus recognizes the molecule and how it then anchors to the cell, which represents the initial stages of infection. The virus-molecule complex in the center of this image is a thousandth as wide as a human hair. (Graphic/Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University)
Coxsackievirus A21 infects host cells first by recognizing a "receptor molecule" called ICAM-1, which is located on the cell’s surface, and then by anchoring itself to the molecule. ICAM-1 stands for intracellular adhesion molecule 1.
"ICAM-1 is the same receptor molecule used by the vast majority of viruses that cause the common cold," said Chuan Xiao, a doctoral student who is leading the research in the laboratory of Michael Rossmann, the Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences in Purdue’s College of Science.
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