Structure of the human metapneumovirus polymerase phosphoprotein complex

Journal: Nature

Published: 2019-11-07

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1759-1

Affiliations: 8

Authors: 12

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Research Highlight

Mapping the structure of a viral enzyme

© KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

© KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

The structure of a key component of two viruses that cause life-threatening respiratory diseases has been determined, which could lead to the development of targeted antiviral drugs.

The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human metapneumovirus (HMPV) give rise to respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis that can be fatal, particularly for premature babies, infants and the elderly. There are currently no vaccines or effective treatments for these diseases.

Now, a team that included six researchers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, has used cryo-electron microscopy to determine the molecular structure of an enzyme that the viruses use when hijacking a cell’s machinery to get the cell to replicate them.

This structural information will help researchers discover ways to disrupt the enzyme’s activity and develop antiviral drugs that target such weak spots. Any antiviral drugs may be effective against other viruses belonging to the same viral family as RSV and HMPV, the team thinks.

Supported content

  1. Nature 577, 275–279 (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1759-1
Institutions Share
School of Biological Sciences (SBS), NTU, Singapore 0.22
Institute of Structural Biology (NISB), NTU, Singapore 0.22
School of Medicine (BUSM), BU, United States of America (USA) 0.17
National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL), BU, United States of America (USA) 0.17
Harvard Department of Systems Biology, United States of America (USA) 0.08
SMART Antimicrobial Resistance Interdisciplinary Research Group (AMR IRG), Singapore 0.06
Division of Molecular Medicine, BCH, United States of America (USA) 0.04
Harvard Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology (BCMP), United States of America (USA) 0.04

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