13 June 2024
**Poxvirus cores' architecture unveiled by scientists**

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Poxvirus cores architecture uncovered by researchers. A recent re-emergence and outbreak of mpox brought poxviruses back as a public health threat, underlining an important knowledge gap at their core. Now, a team of researchers from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) lifted the mysteries of poxviral core architecture by combining various cryo-electron microscopy techniques with molecular modeling.

Poxvirus Core Architecture Unveiled: Unraveling the Mysteries of Viral Infectivity



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Introduction

Poxviruses, a family of large DNA viruses, have long captivated the attention of scientists due to their ability to cause a range of diseases in humans and animals. One such poxvirus, variola virus, was responsible for the devastating smallpox pandemic, which claimed millions of lives until its eradication in 1980. Despite this success, poxviruses continue to pose a public health threat, as evidenced by the recent re-emergence of mpox (monkeypox).

At the core of poxvirus infectivity lies a mysterious structure known as the viral core. This intricate assembly serves as a safe haven for the viral genome, protecting it from degradation and facilitating its release into infected cells. However, the precise architecture of the poxvirus core has remained elusive, hindering the development of effective antiviral therapies.

Unraveling the Secrets of Poxvirus Cores

A team of dedicated researchers from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) embarked on a quest to unravel the mysteries of poxvirus cores. Employing a combination of cutting-edge cryo-electron microscopy techniques and molecular modeling, they ventured into the heart of these enigmatic structures, revealing their intricate architecture for the first time.

A10: The Core Building Block

At the center of the poxvirus core lies a protein called A10, a common component among all clinically relevant poxviruses. This discovery sheds light on the fundamental mechanisms underlying poxvirus infectivity and opens up new avenues for therapeutic interventions.

A Multi-Modal Approach

The ISTA team integrated various cryo-EM techniques, including single-particle cryo-EM, cryo-electron tomography, and subtomogram averaging, to obtain a comprehensive view of the poxvirus core. These techniques allowed them to visualize the core’s overall structure, identify its individual components, and understand their interactions.

AlphaFold: A Powerful Tool

In parallel, the researchers employed AlphaFold, a groundbreaking AI-based molecular modeling tool, to predict the structures of the main core protein candidates. This computational approach provided valuable insights into the molecular architecture of the core, complementing the experimental data obtained from cryo-EM.

A Global View of the Poxvirus Core

The combination of these techniques yielded a detailed 3D model of the poxvirus core, revealing its intricate architecture and the arrangement of its components. This comprehensive view provides a deeper understanding of the core’s role in poxvirus infectivity and opens up new avenues for research and therapeutic development.

Wrapping Up

The ISTA team’s groundbreaking study has lifted the veil on the architecture of poxvirus cores, providing a deeper understanding of their role in viral infectivity. This knowledge could pave the way for the development of novel antiviral therapies, ultimately improving our ability to combat poxvirus infections and protect public health..

FAQ’s

What are poxviruses, and why are they significant?

Poxviruses are a family of large DNA viruses capable of causing a range of diseases in humans and animals. Variola virus, a poxvirus, caused the devastating smallpox pandemic, ultimately eradicated in 1980. However, poxviruses continue to pose a public health threat, as evidenced by the recent re-emergence of mpox (monkeypox).

What is the poxvirus core, and why is its architecture important?

The poxvirus core is a structure that houses the viral genome, protecting it from degradation and facilitating its release into infected cells. Understanding the core’s architecture is crucial for developing effective antiviral therapies.

What key building block is found at the center of the poxvirus core?

A protein called A10 is the key building block located at the center of the poxvirus core. This discovery provides insights into the fundamental mechanisms underlying poxvirus infectivity and opens up new avenues for therapeutic interventions.

What techniques were used to unravel the secrets of poxvirus cores?

The ISTA research team employed a combination of cutting-edge cryo-electron microscopy techniques, including single-particle cryo-EM, cryo-electron tomography, and subtomogram averaging, to obtain a comprehensive view of the poxvirus core. Additionally, they utilized AlphaFold, an AI-based molecular modeling tool, to predict the structures of the main core protein candidates.

What is the significance of the ISTA team’s findings?

The ISTA team’s study provides a detailed 3D model of the poxvirus core, revealing its intricate architecture and the arrangement of its components. This comprehensive view enhances our understanding of the core’s role in poxvirus infectivity and opens up new avenues for research and therapeutic development.

Links to additional Resources:

1. https://www.ist.ac.at/ 2. https://www.nature.com/ 3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Poxvirus, Cryo-electron microscopy, AlphaFold

Poxviridae
Poxviridae is a family of double-stranded DNA viruses. Vertebrates and arthropods serve as natural hosts. There are currently 83 species in this family, divided among 22 genera, which are divided into two subfamilies. Diseases associated with this family include smallpox.Four genera of poxviruses may infect humans: Orthopoxvirus, Parapoxvirus, Yatapoxvirus, Molluscipoxvirus....
Read more: Poxviridae

Cryogenic electron microscopy
Cryogenic electron microscopy (cryoEM) is a cryomicroscopy technique applied on samples cooled to cryogenic temperatures. For biological specimens, the structure is preserved by embedding in an environment of vitreous ice. An aqueous sample solution is applied to a grid-mesh and plunge-frozen in liquid ethane or a mixture of liquid ethane...
Read more: Cryogenic electron microscopy

AlphaFold
AlphaFold is an artificial intelligence (AI) program developed by DeepMind, a subsidiary of Alphabet, which performs predictions of protein structure. The program is designed as a deep learning system.AlphaFold software has had two major versions. A team of researchers that used AlphaFold 1 (2018) placed first in the overall rankings...
Read more: AlphaFold

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