Scientists at Rice University have defined the structure, down to the atomic level, of a virus that is the second-leading cause of juvenile diarrhea. The findings could lead to the development of medications to block it before it becomes infectious.
The spiky capsid shell of the astrovirus contains and protects single-strand RNA until it can be delivered to a cell. The capsid has a surface spike and 30 smaller spikes, and each of those spikes may have a receptor-binding site. In looking for the common receptor, the team found a shallow pocket in the spike that became a prime suspect for receptor binding.
The researchers also discovered the astrovirus may have a sweet tooth.
Full story at Futurity.
(Photo credit: Jinhui Dong and Jeff Fitlow, Rice University)