The CDC published an update this week from the US Zika Pregnancy Registry 2016 (USZPR), describing all zika-associated birth defects from US-born infants with lab evidence of possible recent zika virus infection. The publication highlights that birth defects were noted in some 5% of completed pregnancies. The USZPR does not collect similar statistics on newborns … More A link between zika and microcephaly in the US?
Many viruses ball up their genomes into tiny icosahedral capsids, less than a hundred nanometers in diameter. Though tightly packed, the icosahedral virus capsids are in constant motion. The shells expand and contract, opening up pores and cracks that allow the virus’ innards to momentarily slip through and sample their immediate surroundings. These ‘breathing’ motions … More After things get heated this virus capsid breathes a sigh of relief
The world today would look very different without cyanobacteria. Some 2.5 billion years ago these photosynthetic organisms started producing oxygen on an unprecedented scale, while most life was still poorly adapted to high concentrations of the very reactive gas. The rise in oxygen levels caused many organisms to die off in great numbers, resulting in … More Freezing the biological clock of cyanobacteria in time
The upside of Seattle’s unrelenting winter drizzle is that the place is unusually lush and green for a city. The sidewalks in many neighborhoods include meter-wide strips of green that bloom with lavender and other local wild flowers in the spring and summer. The cherry blossoms on campus signal the start of the season, and … More Down to bumblebee business
Temperate phages are viruses that infect bacteria and can switch between two different replication cycles. In one cycle, the phage genome is replicated and packaged into new phage particles that eventually burst out of the infected bacterial cell. Instead of replicating on its own, the phage genome can also integrate in the genome of its … More The mindless chatter of a bacteriophage
A bacteriophage that infects Pseudomonas bacteria can assemble a nucleus-like compartment in infected cells. A team of researchers at University of California San Diego, led by Joe Pogliano, used microscopy to show this in a recent publication in the journal Science. The researchers observed how phage DNA is replicated and transcribed inside the compartment, while … More Phage makes compartments like a nucleus in bacterial cells
Cryo electron microscopy has long been a favorite tool of people that work on icosahedral viruses. By applying the very high order of symmetry of the icosahedral virus capsid to a 3D reconstruction, structural virologists have often been able to boost the signal-to-noise ratio in their maps high enough to reveal details on the atomic … More Structure of a packaged viral genome