Surprises of the measles virus structure with new 3d model

Oct 24, 2011

Professor Sarah Butcher's research group from Helsinki University's Institute of Biotechnology report in the 24th October online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences a three-dimensional model of measles virus. The new model helps to explain many previous, unaccounted for observations in the life cycle of the virus.

Measles is an important disease worldwide that is highly infectious, causing the deaths of over 100000 people annually. According to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation, 33 countries in Europe have reported cases in 2011. As there is an effective vaccine against given to children, most of the infections detected in Finland are the result of exposure abroad.

Measles virus belongs to a family of viruses whose members are all pleomorphic enveloped viruses. All the members of this family contain a so called "matrix" protein which has previously been thought to line the inside of the envelope and play a major role in the budding of the virus from the cell.

The group's research shows that matrix actually forms helical tubes inside the virus that are wrapped around the and nucleocapsid. So matrix helps to compact the genome to fit it into the virus. Thus the researchers believe that matrix will regulate both the start of in the cell, and also the movement of the genome within the cell as the virus assembles. The research used modern electron cryo-tomography and image processing to solve the structure, a method analogous to X-ray tomography of the human body.

Lassi Liljeroos, M.Sc. a Ph.D. student in the Butcher group will now follow up on these results by looking at related viruses to see if they are similar. Structurally, measles virus may be similar to other viruses causing like influenza and RS-virus.

The understanding of at the molecular level can help in the design and development of new antiviral drugs. The measles virus research was carried out as collaboration with researchers from Oxford and Turku Universities.

Explore further: Peripheral clocks don't need the brain's master clock to function correctly

More information: Electron cryotomography of measles virus reveals how matrix protein coats the ribonucleocapsid within intact virions, PNAS, 2011.

Provided by University of Helsinki

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cell receptor could allow measles virus to target tumors

Aug 25, 2011

Canadian researchers have discovered that a tumor cell marker is a receptor for measles virus, suggesting the possible use of measles virus to help fight cancer. Their findings appear in the Open Access journal PLoS Pathogens on Aug ...

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 ...

Matrix protein key to fighting viruses

Apr 29, 2009

Researchers from Durham University's Centre for Bioactive Chemistry are developing methods that show how proteins interact with cell membranes when a virus strikes. Using their approach, the team hopes to ...

Researchers describe measles viral protein movement

Jan 09, 2011

Mayo Clinic researchers have shown that proteins on the surface of a cell twist a viral protein into position, allowing the virus to start infection and cause disease, all in a movement as graceful as a ballroom dance. The ...

Recommended for you

Identifying the source of stem cells

12 hours ago

When most animals begin life, cells immediately begin accepting assignments to become a head, tail or a vital organ. However, mammals, including humans, are special. The cells of mammalian embryos get to ...

Contamination likely explains 'food genes in blood' claim

Oct 29, 2014

Laboratory contaminants likely explain the results of a recent study claiming that complete genes can pass from foods we eat into our blood, according to a University of Michigan molecular biologist who re-examined ...

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.