Building 3-D Virus Structures

Virus Structure Tutorial
Shuchismita Dutta, Ph.D.
RCSB PDB, 2008
• Viruses can cause a variety of diseases from
common cold and the flu to serious illnesses
such as AIDS, dengue fever, measles, small pox
and bird flu.
• All viruses infect cells and hijack the host cellular
machinery for their own benefit.
• Learning about the biology and structure of
viruses can help us better understand the
diseases that they cause, their prevention and
• Introduction to viruses – what they are made of,
how do they survive and propagate.
• Virus structures – shape and symmetric
interaction of proteins, nucleic acids.
• Hands-on activities
• List of related resources and additional reading
• Take home message: The shape and structure
of proteins are specific for their function.
• Information
– Protein Data Bank
– Viruses
• Building virus models
– Paper models
– Marshmallow models
• Dengue virus
– Virus maturation
• Possible directions for
lesson plans
Basic Information
What is a virus?
• Organism that causes diseases
– Common cold
– Flu
– Bird flu
– Polio
Smallopx virus
Aeromonas virus 31
Herpes simplex virus
Electron micrographs of viruses.
Influenza virus
Orf virus
What do Viruses look like?
Tailed phages
Are viruses living or non-living?
(A typical virus life-cycle),articleId-8448.html
Viral Infection and Immunity
Poliovirus and Rhinovirus
August 2001 Molecule of the Month
Building Icosahedral Viruses
What is an Icosahedron?
Icosahedron: a geometric solid with twenty faces. Each face is an
equilateral triangle and every vertex of the icosahedron is formed by
five triangular faces.
Edges 30; Vertices 12; Faces 20
The Marshmallow model
Students make marshmallow icosahedrons
at Princeton Science & Engineering Expo
The Paper Model
Students make marshmallow icosahedrons
at Princeton Science & Engineering Expo
The Story of Dengue Virus
Dengue Virus
Single-stranded RNA virus
Causes dengue hemorrhagic fever
Transmitted by mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti)
Serotypes (DEN-1, 2, 3, 4)
Dengue Virus
Nature Structural Biology 10, 907 - 912 (2003)
World distribution of dengue viruses and their mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti, (2005)
Life Cycle of Dengue Virus
Structural changes in envelope
protein, icosahedral shell:
•Fusion –antiparallel
homodimers to parallel
•Maturation – conformational
change of immature trimers to
homodimers followed by
protease cleavage (by furin) to
form mature antiparpllel dimers
Nature Reviews Microbiology 3, 13-22 (January 2005)
Maturation of Dengue Virus
Science 28 March 2008:Vol. 319. no. 5871, pp. 1834 - 1837
Molecule of the Month, July, 2008
Nature Reviews Microbiology 3, 13-22 (January 2005)
Possible Directions
for Lesson Plans
A Lesson on Icosahedral Viruses
Shapes of proteins (Introduction to PDB)
What is a virus?
Shapes of viruses
Building 3-D models of icosahedral viruses
Answering questions about viruses and
the icosahedral virus models.
• Research on a specific disease caused by
a virus (e.g. Dengue Fever)
Vaccines and Antivirals
•Infection, Prevention & Treatment
•Rhinovirus or Flu virus or HIV etc.
Protein Structure
•Structure of proteins
in virus shells
•Use of symmetry in
assembling viruses
•How viruses hijack host cells
•Viruses and cancer
Math & Geometry
Genetics & Mutation
•helices etc.
•Evolution in viruses
•Why antiviral treatments
need to evolve too
Biotechnological uses of Viruses
•Protein expressing,
•gene therapy
Operated by two
members of the RCSB:
a member of the
Supported by:

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