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Influenza nucleoprotein structure deciphered

RNA binding site differs significantly from other viruses

Graciela Flores
Researchers have unraveled the structure of the influenza A virus nucleoprotein, a development that might lead to the functional design of protein inhibitors used in antiviral therapeutics, according to a report in Nature. The crystal structure of the nucleoprotein is a trimer, with each monomer molecule shaped like a crescent. "Each molecule has a head and a body, two domains that are linked together by a single polypeptide chain that winds back and forth between them," senior author Yizhi Jane Tao of Rice University in Houston, Texas, told The Scientist. There is also a small tail at the back of the molecule that plays an important role in the oligomerization of the protein.The viral nucleoprotein has two well known functions: It provides the scaffold for the ribonucleoprotein double helix, which is the complex in which viral RNA is packaged, and it also regulates viral RNA replication through interaction...

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