Atomic structure of the Epstein-Barr virus portal

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2019-08-29

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11706-8

Affiliations: 4

Authors: 7

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Research Highlight

A portal into drug design for Epstein–Barr virus



A detailed picture of the ring-shaped protein through which DNA from the Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) enters and exits a protective shell could lead to new treatments for the infectious pathogen.

EBV is one of the most common viruses in humans, with about 90% to 95% of all adults infected with it. While it is often present without symptoms, EBV can give rise to glandular fever and various cancers and auto-immune diseases. No drugs are currently licensed for treating EBV infections.

A team that included scientists from the Spanish National Research Council used cryo-electron microscopy to determine the atomic structure of the EBV portal protein to a resolution of 3.5 angstroms.

From above, the protein shows a doughnut-like structure, but from the side, it looks more like a mushroom, with an internal conical channel running through a wider ‘cap’ and narrower ‘stem’.

This map of the virus’ portal protein offers a starting point for drug-design strategies based on structure.

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  1. Nature Communications 10, 3891 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11706-8
Institutions Share
University of Oxford, United Kingdom (UK) 0.29
National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB), CSIC, Spain 0.29
Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), BIST, Spain 0.21
Molecular Biology Institute of Barcelona (IBMB), CSIC, Spain 0.21