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: Warning coloration paved the way for louder, more complex calls in certain species of poisonous frogs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Comet Siding Spring whizzes past Mars

7 hours ago

A comet the size of a small mountain whizzed past Mars on Sunday, dazzling space enthusiasts with the once-in-a-million-years encounter.

Major breakthrough could help detoxify pollutants

11 hours ago

Scientists at The University of Manchester hope a major breakthrough could lead to more effective methods for detoxifying dangerous pollutants like PCBs and dioxins. The result is a culmination of 15 years of research and ...

Recommended for you

Cat dentals fill you with dread?

Oct 24, 2014

A survey published this year found that over 50% of final year veterinary students in the UK do not feel confident either in discussing orodental problems with clients or in performing a detailed examination of the oral cavity ...

User comments : 0