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: No returning to Eden: Researchers explore how to restore species in a changing world

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New meteor shower "just a memory" of what once was there

27 minutes ago

The weak display of last month's Camelopardalids meteor shower, the result of the close passage of comet 209P/LINEAR, may have disappointed backyard observers, but this never-before-seen shower now has scientists ...

Exotic state of matter propels quantum computing theory

56 minutes ago

So far it exists mainly in theory, but if invented, the large-scale quantum computer would change computing forever. Rather than the classical data-encoding method using binary digits, a quantum computer would process information ...

Recommended for you

Noise pollution impacts fish species differently

11 minutes ago

Acoustic disturbance has different effects on different species of fish, according to a new study from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter which tested fish anti-predator behaviour.

Atomic structure of key muscle component revealed

11 minutes ago

Actin is the most abundant protein in the body, and when you look more closely at its fundamental role in life, it's easy to see why. It is the basis of most movement in the body, and all cells and components ...

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles

11 minutes ago

Invertebrate numbers have decreased by 45% on average over a 35 year period in which the human population doubled, reports a study on the impact of humans on declining animal numbers. This decline matters because of the enormous ...

User comments : 0