Image of the Day: Viral Vision

Modified cryogenic electron microscopy can analyze viral structures better than ever before.

Sep 18, 2018
Sukanya Charuchandra

ABOVE: The inset shows the cryogenic electron microscopy–derived structure of the virus particle (adeno-associated virus serotype 2). The full image shows the atomic model of amino acids based on the experimentally determined image with oxygen in red, nitrogen in blue, carbon in yellow, and sulfur in greens.

Using several different modifications suggested previously only in theory, researchers have shown experimentally that a type of imaging called cryogenic electron microscopy can be used to assemble a 3-D image of a miniscule viral particle, as described in a study published September 7 in Nature Communications.

The authors say that revamping the technique could help in the development of gene therapy using viral vectors. “This technique will become especially important for developing a better understanding of how these viruses interact with the human immune system, which is one of the major remaining hurdles to the utilization of these viruses in gene therapy applications,” says coauthor Mavis Agbandje-McKenna of the University of Florida in a statement.

Y.Z. Tan et al., “Sub-2 Å Ewald curvature corrected structure of an AAV2 capsid variant,” Nat Commun, doi:10.1038/s41467-018-06076-6, 2018.

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