Purdue researchers first in world to reveal Zika virus structure

Zhenguo Chen, Devika Sirohi, Kuhn, Rossman, thomas Klose, Lei Sun by Mark Simons

Zhenguo Chen, Devika Sirohi, Richard Kuhn, Michael Rossmann, Thomas Klose and Lei Sun are members of a team of researchers studying the structure of the Zika virus. (Mark Simons)

03/31/2016 |

A team led by Purdue University researchers is the first to determine the structure of the Zika virus, revealing insights critical to the development of effective antiviral treatments and vaccines.

The team also identified regions within the Zika virus structure where it differs from other flaviviruses, the family of viruses to which Zika belongs that includes dengue, West Nile, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and tick-borne encephalitic viruses.

A paper detailing the findings was published in March in the journal Science and is available online.

“The structure of the virus provides a map that shows potential regions of the virus that could be targeted by a therapeutic treatment, used to create an effective vaccine or to improve our ability to diagnose and distinguish Zika infection from that of other related viruses,” says Richard Kuhn, director of the Purdue Institute for Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Diseases (PI4D), who led the research team withMichael Rossmann, Purdue’s Hanley Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences.

The university’s recently announced $250 million investment in the life sciences funded the purchase of advanced equipment that allowed the team to do in a couple of months what otherwise would have taken years, Rossmann says.

“We were able to determine through cryo-electron microscopy the virus structure at a resolution that previously would only have been possible through X-ray crystallography,” he says.

– Elizabeth K. Gardner
See original news release at http://bit.ly/1Y2mr3H