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July 14, 2005

Biologists See Combined Structure Of Cold Virus And Receptor Molecule

Topics: Medicine

Biologists at Purdue University have determined the combined structure of a common-cold virus attached to a molecule that enables the virus to infect its host, information that ultimately may help researchers develop methods for treating certain viral infections.

coxsackievirus

[...]
[Composite image shows the combined structure of Coxsackievirus A21 and a "receptor molecule" called ICAM-1, or intracellular adhesion molecule 1. The virus is one of the viruses that causes the common cold, and the receptor molecule enables the virus to attach to and infect host cells. ICAM-1, located on the surfaces of cells, is represented in blue, and the virus is represented as red.]

Coxsackievirus A21 infects host cells first by recognizing a "receptor molecule" called ICAM-1, which is located on the cell's surface, and then by anchoring itself to the molecule. ICAM-1 stands for intracellular adhesion molecule 1.

"ICAM-1 is the same receptor molecule used by the vast majority of viruses that cause the common cold," said Chuan Xiao, a doctoral student who is leading the research in the laboratory of Michael Rossmann, the Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences in Purdue's College of Science.

"The real objective of this work is to study the whole complex of ICAM-1 and the virus as a single entity," Rossmann said. "Being able to characterize the combined structure of the virus and ICAM-1 will teach us how the virus recognizes a particular kind of molecule and how it then anchors to the cell, which represents the initial stages of infection."

Ultimately, researchers are trying to learn more about the binding mechanisms because such knowledge might eventually lead to new treatments.

"One of the many different ways of inhibiting viral infection is to stop the virus from binding to cells," Rossmann said. "That has not been our objective in this case. We just want to learn how this virus infects its host cell. In other words, how does the virus get into the host?"

Coxsackievirus A21 is one of several viruses that cause the common cold.

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Posted by Hyscience at July 14, 2005 10:22 PM



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