Nav: Home

Structure of Zika virus determined

March 31, 2016

A near-atomic level map of Zika virus shows its structure to be largely similar to that of dengue virus and other flaviviruses, but with a notable difference in one key surface protein, report scientists funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The variation in the Zika envelope (E) glycoproteins-- 180 of which are packed on the virus's outer shell-- may provide clues to better understand how Zika virus enters human cells and suggests ways to combat the virus with drugs or vaccines aimed at the newly detailed region.

NIAID grantees Richard Kuhn, Ph.D., Michael Rossmann, Ph.D., and their colleagues at Purdue University created the picture of a mature Zika virus particle with a technique called cryo-electron microscropy. The process involves freezing virus particles and firing a stream of high-energy electrons through the sample to create tens of thousands of two-dimensional electron micrograph images that are then combined to yield a composite high-resolution, three-dimensional view of the virus. The team included NIAID investigator Theodore Pierson, Ph.D.

The difference visualized by the researchers is in a region of the E glycoprotein that flaviviruses may use to attach to some human cells. The variation in the E glycoprotein of Zika virus could explain the ability of the virus to attack nerve cells, as well as the associations of Zika virus infection with birth defects and the autoimmune-neurological Guillian-Barré syndrome. The structure could inform vaccine development, as the Zika E glycoprotein is a key target of immune responses against the virus. The information may also be useful for designing treatments such as antiviral drugs or antibodies that interfere with E glycoprotein function. Further, details on the structural differences between E glycoprotein of Zika virus and the same protein in dengue virus may make it possible to create diagnostic tests that can distinguish Zika virus infection from dengue infection, a critical need in countries where both Zika and dengue viruses are circulating.
-end-
ARTICLE: D Sirohi et al. The 3.8Å resolution cryo-EM structure of Zika virus. Science DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf5316 (2016).

WHO: The following individuals are available to comment on the research:
  • NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
  • Theodore Pierson, Ph.D., of NIAID's Laboratory of Viral Diseases, a co-author on the paper
  • Cristina Cassetti, Ph.D., of NIAID's Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
CONTACT: To schedule interviews with NIAID experts, please contact Anne A. Oplinger, (301) 402-1663, aoplinger@niaid.nih.gov.

NOTE: Contact Elizabeth Gardner, Purdue University, at ekgardner@purdue.edu or (765) 494-2081 for audiovisual content about this research and to request interviews with Purdue University researchers Richard Kuhn and Michael Rossmann.

This research was supported by NIAID grants R01AI073755 and R01AI076331.

NIAID conducts and supports research--at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide--to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov/.

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Related Birth Defects Articles:

Some antibiotics prescribed during pregnancy linked with birth defects
Children of mothers prescribed macrolide antibiotics during early pregnancy are at an increased risk of major birth defects, particularly heart defects, compared with children of mothers prescribed penicillin, finds a study published by The BMJ today.
Weight-loss surgery cuts risk of birth defects
Children born to women who underwent gastric bypass surgery before becoming pregnant had a lower risk of major birth defects than children born to women who had severe obesity at the start of their pregnancy.
Defective cilia linked to heart valve birth defects
Bicuspid aortic valve (BAV), the most common heart valve birth defect, is associated with genetic variation in human primary cilia during heart valve development, report Medical University of South Carolina researchers in Circulation.
Findings shed new light on why Zika causes birth defects in some pregnancies
A new study shows that the risk of giving birth to a child with microcephaly might be related to how the immune system reacts against the Zika virus -- specifically what kind of antibodies it produces.
Severe air pollution can cause birth defects, deaths
In a comprehensive study, researchers from Texas A&M University have determined that harmful particulate matter in the atmosphere can produce birth defects and even fatalities during pregnancy using the animal model.
Famous cancer-fighting gene also protects against birth defects
New research has revealed how the famous tumour suppressor gene p53 is surprisingly critical for development of the neural tube in female embryos.
Biomarkers may predict Zika-related birth defects
The highest risk of birth defects is from Zika virus infection during the first and second trimester.
After 60 years, scientists uncover how thalidomide produced birth defects
More than 60 years after the drug thalidomide caused birth defects in thousands of children whose mothers took the drug while pregnant, scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have solved a mystery that has lingered ever since the dangers of the drug first became apparent: how did the drug produce such severe fetal harm?
Antiepileptic drug induces birth defects in frogs
A common drug for treating epileptic seizures may lead to birth defects if used during pregnancy by interfering with glutamate signaling in earliest stages of nervous system development, finds a study in frogs published in JNeurosci.
All in the family: Relatives of Zika virus may cause birth defects
Relatives of Zika virus can damage developing fetuses in mice and were able to replicate in human maternal and fetal tissues, researchers report.
More Birth Defects News and Birth Defects Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.