Crop Biotech Update

Study Details Structure of Immature Zika Virus

January 18, 2017

In an effort toward better understanding of how the Zika virus infects host cells and spreads, researchers at Purdue University have published a high resolution structure of the immature Zika virus. The structure of the mature Zika virus has been published in 2016, and researchers point at the differences between immature and mature Zika virus. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease and has been associated with a birth defect called microcephaly that causes brain damage and an abnormally small head in babies born to mothers infected during pregnancy.

The researchers used cryo-electron microscopy to reconstruct the immature virus's structure at 9 Ã…ngstroms resolution, about a thousand times better resolution than a conventional light microscope. They found that the genome of the virus is housed inside a protective envelope that includes a lipid membrane, an envelope protein, a precursor membrane protein, and a capsid protein. A map of the immature virus's structure revealed details about the proteins, showing that the envelope and precursor membrane proteins are arranged in 60 spike-like features on the virus's surface. The capsid protein is located on the internal side of the lipid membrane. The structure differs from the mature Zika virus in that the membrane protein in the mature virus is covered by the envelope protein.

For more information, read the news release from Purdue University.