Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and the University Clinic Heidelberg, Germany, have produced a three-dimensional reconstruction of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), which shows the structure of the immature form of the virus at unprecedented detail.
Immature HIV is a precursor of the infectious virus, which can cause AIDS. The study, published in the 22-26 June online edition of PNAS, describes how the protein coat that packages the virus' genetic material assembles in human cells. Drugs that block this assembly process and prevent the virus from maturing into its infectious form are considered a promising therapeutic approach.
HIV consists of an RNA molecule that carries the genetic information of the virus and is surrounded by protective protein and membrane layers. During infection the virus deposits its genetic material into a human cell where it reprogrammes the host cell machinery to generate many copies of the viral genome and initiates the production of a viral protein called Gag. In the immature virus, many copies of Gag interact to form a roughly spherical lattice that encloses the virus' genetic material. The virus then leaves the cell with the help of proteins of the host and infects new cells.
Using a method called cryoelectron tomography researchers in the groups of John Briggs at EMBL and Hans-Georg Kräusslich at the University Clinic Heidelberg generated the as yet highest resolution 3D computer reconstruction images of the immature Gag lattice. The results suggest a simple model of HIV formation in human cells: multiple Gag proteins interact to form a hexameric lattice that grows with an inherent curvature and that incorporates new proteins stochastically. Several further steps in which Gag is cleaved by an enzyme are necessary to transform this immature lattice into its mature, infectious form.
Briggs and his team are now working on producing an even higher resolution structure of the protein lattice to gain a more detailed understanding of the virus' assembly and maturation processes, which may eventually help to find weak points that could be targeted by drugs.
Cryoelectron tomography is a technique with which a sample is instantly frozen in its natural state and then examined with an electron microscope. Images are taken from different directions and assembled into an accurate 3D reconstruction by a computer.
Anna-Lynn Wegener | EMBL
True to type: From human biopsy to complex gut physiology on a chip
14.02.2018 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
The Scanpy software processes huge amounts of single-cell data
12.02.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
19.02.2018 | Information Technology
19.02.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
19.02.2018 | Life Sciences