Researchers have discovered a new structure of the deadly zika virus in order to understand how like virus infects and harms the host's cells and spreads out.
This Research has been performed by the researchers from Purdue University where they have analysed the high-resolution structure of the immature form of the Zika virus.
In this case the researchers have found that the immature Zika virus has similar structure when compared to other related viruses, such as the West Nile virus and dengue fever.
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According to the study led by Michael Rossmann and Richard Kuhn, both professors in Purdue's Department of Biological Sciences, comprised of postdoctoral research associate Vidya Mangala Prasad.
"It is, therefore, probable that the immature form of Zika also plays a role in virus infection and spread," said Michael Rossmann.
The deadly Zika virus belongs to the virus family known as flaviviruses, which includes dengue, West Nile, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and tick-borne encephalitic viruses.
In study, it has been found that the mature forms of flaviviruses are considered infectious.
"I think these findings open the door to begin to explore the assembly process of the virus," said Kuhn, director of the Purdue Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease (PI4D). "We see clear differences between the structure of the immature virus and the mature virus. Not only are there differences in the outer structure, but the inner core must also undergo some significant changes during maturation. We need to study what these changes are and why they occur."
Zika virus has been linked with microcephaly – a birth defect - which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and also with the autoimmune disorder Guillan-Barré syndrome.
The study funded by the National Institutes of Health was published online in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. It will also be published in a future print issue of the journal.