Scientists use CLS to identify key protein in stopping viruses

January 30, 2013
Biological structure of the IFIT protein.

(—Using the Canadian Light Source (CLS) synchrotron, researchers have determined the structure of a key protein that stops viruses from spreading, an important step towards developing new ways of fighting viral diseases.

Viruses like influenza, SARS, Hepatitis C, and polio are small, infectious agents that can spread quickly throughout the body by replicating their genetic code, or ribonucleic acid (RNA).

During the replication process, small proteins are needed to synthesize the virus throughout the body. However some proteins actually inhibit the RNA from replicating, keeping the virus from spreading.

While scientists were aware of the antiviral , such as the IFIT protein, they were not certain what their molecular structures looked like and how they reacted with the .

Making use of data collected at the CLS, researchers from McGill University and the Austrian Research Center for Molecular Medicine (CeMM) discovered the molecular blueprint behind the IFIT protein. The discovery will help scientists develop new drugs for combatting a wide-range of immune system disorders.

The discovery was made by teams led by Bhushan Nagar, professor of biochemistry at McGill's Faculty of Medicine and Dr. Giulio Superti-Furga at CeMM. The results were published recently in the journal Nature where the article describes how the IFIT protein binds to foreign RNA, allowing the immune system to distinguish "self from non self".

"This discovery of the IFIT is very rewarding to us at the Canadian Light Source," said Shaun Labiuk, research associate with the Canadian Facility (CMCF) at the CLS. "We are always excited when the work we put into helping researchers, and maintaining the smooth operation of our beamlines, makes high-calibre of research like this possible."

The CMCF scientists operate two X-ray crystallography beamlines to conduct high-resolution structural studies of proteins, nucleic acids and other macromolecules.

Since 2006, Researchers have used data collected at the CLS synchrotron to solve crystal structures of 328 new proteins, many of which help researchers develop new ways of combatting diseases.

Explore further: Scientists see Norwalk virus' Achilles heel

Related Stories

Scientists see Norwalk virus' Achilles heel

March 19, 2008

Using the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, an international team led by University of Calgary researcher Ken Ng has determined the detailed structure of the enzyme the Norwalk virus uses to make copies of its genetic code ...

Getting wise to the influenza virus' tricks

May 4, 2008

Influenza is currently a grave concern for governments and health organisations around the world. The worry is the potential for highly virulent bird flu strains, such as H5N1, to develop the ability to infect humans easily. ...

Researchers discover Ebola's deadly secret

January 19, 2010

( -- Research at Iowa State University has led scientists to uncover how the deadly Zaire Ebola virus decoys cells and eventually kills them.

Discovery advances fight against phleboviruses

November 7, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers in the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan have discovered how a particular type of virus hides and protects its genetic information from the immune system, a design that allows ...

Recommended for you

Selecting the right house plant could improve indoor air

August 24, 2016

Indoor air pollution is an important environmental threat to human health, leading to symptoms of "sick building syndrome." But researchers report that surrounding oneself with certain house plants could combat the potentially ...

LiH mediates low-temperature ammonia synthesis

August 24, 2016

Nearly half of the world's population is fed by industrial N2 fixation, i. e., the Harbor-Bosch process. Although exergonic in nature, NH3 synthesis from N2 and H2 catalyzed by the fused Fe has to be conducted at elevated ...


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.