Structure of salt lake archaeal virus solved in Finland

May 27, 2008

Researchers at the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Virus Research at University of Helsinki’s Institute of Biotechnology have solved the structure of archaeal virus SH1 to the resolution of one nanometer. The results that shed new light on the evolution of viruses will be published this week in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Only highly specialized life forms such as SH1 and its host Haloarcula hispanica can survive in the extreme conditions of their salt lake habitat. As they are cut off from the rest of the biosphere in a relatively unchanging environment, they can be seen as living fossils, and thus the study of the SH1 structure helps us to understand the evolution of viruses and virus-host interaction.

The research group led by Professor Sarah Butcher used electron-cryomicroscopy and computerized three-dimensional modelling techniques to solve the SH1 structure. The resolution of the virus reconstruction is higher than that of any previously published structure of an archaeal virus, allowing for detailed structural analysis of the biological membrane, genomic matter and protein coat of this unique virus.

The interesting observation from the point of view of evolutionary biology is that it appears possible that a viral protein similar to the SH1 coat protein has been the ancestor of a common viral structural protein type that is found for example in adenoviruses.

Source: University of Helsinki

Explore further: Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

Related Stories

NSA winds down once-secret phone-records collection program

12 hours ago

The National Security Agency has begun winding down its collection and storage of American phone records after the Senate failed to agree on a path forward to change or extend the once-secret program ahead of its expiration ...

Recommended for you

Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

9 hours ago

Male moths locate females by navigating along the latter's pheromone (odor) plume, often flying hundreds of meters to do so. Two strategies are involved to accomplish this: males must find the outer envelope ...

Bacterial tenants in fungal quarters

19 hours ago

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have sequenced the genome of a bacterial symbiont hosted by a mycorrhizal fungus. Analysis of the symbiont's genetic endowment reveals previously unknown ...

Natural enzyme examined as antibiotics alternative

22 hours ago

In 1921, Alexander Fleming discovered the antimicrobial powers of the enzyme lysozyme after observing diminished bacterial growth in a Petri dish where a drop from his runny nose had fallen. The famed Scottish ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.