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: Herd mentality: Are we programmed to make bad decisions?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Re-imagining the network

1 hour ago

Communication networks are evolving to keep pace with increasing consumer needs and business demands. We've already experienced the progressive jumps from 1G to 4G wireless networks and 5G is looming in the not-too-distant ...

Recommended for you

Protections blocked, but sage grouse work goes on

2 hours ago

(AP)—U.S. wildlife officials will decide next year whether a wide-ranging Western bird species needs protections even though Congress has blocked such protections from taking effect, Interior Secretary ...

Contrasting views of kin selection assessed

4 hours ago

In an article to be published in the January issue of BioScience, two philosophers tackle one of the most divisive arguments in modern biology: the value of the theory of "kin selection."

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.