TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Scientists build atomic model of immature retrovirus

Scientists build atomic model of immature retrovirus | Courtesy of biology.usf.edu
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Scientists recently used molecular modeling as well as large-scale molecular dynamic simulation to build an immature retrovirus in the form of an atomic model.

The team of scientists, who united from the Theoretical and Computation Biophysics Group at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, studied retroviruses (like HIV) because they are difficult to treat. Creating a model may help researchers develop better treatments for retroviruses.

Retroviruses are responsible for life-long infections as well as the complicated process of transforming RNA into DNA. During these transcriptions, mutations happen that make it more difficult to target the retrovirus.

"We have had a pretty good understanding of the mature infectious particle at a level where we can make specific predictions about the local chemical interactions between the protein subunits in the virus," Rebecca Craven, professor of microbiology and immunology and at Penn State University and one of the study's authors, said. "But the field was really lacking similar high-resolution knowledge about the immature virus. This new model is the first to give us an atomic-level look at the immature state. With that knowledge we can try to understand the precise molecular mechanisms of virus maturation and help to elucidate how drugs can be designed to interfere with that."

Further details are available in Structure.