As researchers strive to understand the interplay between the complex molecular systems that make up living cells, tools for characterizing the interactions between the various players involved have developed. Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) plays an important role in building a molecular-level understanding of the structures of macromolecular systems that make up cells. SANS is widely applicable to the study of biological structures including, but by no means limited to, protein-protein or protein-nucleic acid complexes, lipid membranes, cellular scaffolding, and amyloid plaques. Here, we present a brief description of the technique as it is commonly applied to the study of biological systems and an overview instrumentation that is available at the various facilities around the world.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Arthropod borne viruses have developed a complex life cycle adapted to alternate between insect and vertebrate hosts. These arthropod-borne viruses belong mainly to the families Togaviridae, Flaviviridae, and Bunyaviridae. This group of viruses contains many pathogens that cause febrile, hemorrhagic, and encephalitic disease or arthritic symptoms which can be persistent. It has been appreciated for many years that these viruses were evolutionarily adapted to function in the highly divergent cellular environments of both insect and mammalian phyla. These viruses are hybrid in nature, containing viral-encoded RNA and proteins which are glycosylated by the host and encapsulate viral nucleocapsids in the context of a host-derived membrane. From a structural perspective, these virus particles are macromolecular machines adapted in design to assemble into a packaging and delivery system for the virus genome and, only when associated with the conditions appropriate for a productive infection, to disassemble and deliver the RNA cargo. It was initially assumed that the structures of the virus from both hosts were equivalent. New evidence that alphaviruses and flaviviruses can exist in more than one conformation postenvelopment will be discussed in this review. The data are limited but should refocus the field of structural biology on the metastable nature of these viruses.
Advances in Virology 09/2014; 2014:259382. DOI:10.1155/2014/259382
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