Purdue team creates 3-D map of Zika virus
The map shows that Zika is structurally similar to flaviviruses, like the dengue virus, with the exception of its one surface protein. The viruses have 180 Zika envelope (E) glycoproteins, which have a variation that could be exploited in combating the virus.
That difference is found in an E glycoprotein region that may be used to attach to some human cells, and could explain how the virus is able to attack nerve cells and its association with birth defects and Guillian-Barré syndrome.
The imaging was partly funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases with Theodore Pierson, Richard Khun and Michael Rossmann capturing the images using cryo-electron microscropy, a technique wherein researchers freeze virus particles and fire high-energy electrons through the sample. This resulted in tens of thousands of two-dimensional images that researchers compiled to create a composite high-resolution, 3-D image.