Saturday, 7 February 2015

New understanding of virus vulnerability

A new study has analyzed how genome mutations of RNA viruses tend to be lethal for these infectious agents. It takes very little to make the RNA too messy and bulky to fit into the capsid -- the shell that contains the viral genome -- and by doing so disrupt the reproductive process. Lošdorfer Bochr('382')ichr('269').

To get into the capsid, the "exoskeleton" of viruses, RNA must be well combed and "packed," because otherwise it will not. The packing of RNA is governed by the genome itself. Based on previous research that demonstrated that viral RNA is normally optimized for packing (outside the capsid it is only slightly bigger than the capsid itself).

Researchers have verified what types of genome alterations preserve the optimization and which instead render the RNA too bulky.

For further details see:

Luca Tubiana, Anže Lošdorfer Božič, Cristian Micheletti, Rudolf Podgornik. Synonymous Mutations Reduce Genome Compactness in Icosahedral ssRNA Viruses. Biophysical Journal, 2015; 108 (1): 194 DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2014.10.070

 Posted by Tim Sandle