July 26, 2010
The new map details an essential piece of the herpes virus “cell-entry machinery,” providing scientists with a new target for antiviral drugs.
The research was published online in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.
Researchers at Tufts and Penn used X-ray crystallography along with cell microscopy techniques to study the structure and function of the cell-entry protein fusion events carried out by HSV-2. The research has resulted in a map of an important protein complex required to trigger herpes virus infection, setting the stage for new therapeutics that may prevent the virus’s access to cells.
Most viruses need cell-entry proteins called fusogens in order to invade cells. Scientists have known that the herpes virus fusogen does not act alone, requiring a complex of two other viral cell-entry proteins. In this study, researchers determined the structure of this key protein complex and realized it did not resemble the structure of other known fusogens.
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