Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

X-ray imaging of a single virus in 3-D
by Staff Writers
College Park, MD (SPX) Mar 06, 2015

By combining diffraction patterns of single viruses measured with the intense beam from Stanford's X-ray free-electron-laser (XFEL), a team of researchers reconstructed the 3-D structure of the mimivirus. Image courtesy Tomas Ekeberg et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 098102 (2015). For a larger version of this image please go here.

Since the determination of the molecular structure of myoglobin in 1957, X-ray crystallography has been the defining tool of structural biology, allowing researchers to determine the structure (and hence the function) of tens of thousands of proteins, nucleic acids, and other biological molecules.

But the method can only work for molecules that form large, high quality crystals. An international team of scientists has now used the intense beam of Stanford's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) [the world's first hard x-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) and one of only two currently operating in the world] to demonstrate that it is possible to reconstruct the 3D structure of a virus particle without the need of a crystal, by combining many diffraction patterns collected from a sequence of randomly oriented single viruses.

Solving the structure of single molecules would have profound implications for biology, as many important molecules cannot be crystallized. This is the case for many proteins that interact with biological membranes ("membrane proteins"), which play a role in the immune response, in cellular ion channels and receptors, and are so crucial for life that a very large fraction (20-30%) of the human genome is dedicated to keeping the code for their production.

The authors studied the giant mimivirus, a virus isolated in 1992 from amoebae growing in a water tower and thought to be the cause of certain forms of pneumonia. The team injected single viruses into LCLS' x-ray beam and recorded about 200 diffraction patterns from individual viruses.

Since the injected viruses were oriented in unknown directions, the team applied a recently developed optimization algorithm to recover, from the diffraction patterns, the relative orientation of the particles captured by each snapshot. By adding up all contributions they obtained a three-dimensional image of the giant mimivirus.

The work poses an important step towards solving the structures of non-crystallizable biomolecules, demonstrating that it is possible to gather noisy diffraction data from hundreds of individual samples and assemble the data into a complete diffraction pattern, from which the 3D structure can be derived.

The technique's spatial resolution (currently 125 nanometer) will need to be improved before biomolecules like proteins, much smaller than the giant mimivirus, can be tackled. However, the method could already image important pathogenic viruses like HIV, influenza and herpes.

This research is published in Physical Review Letters: Tomas Ekeberg et al., "Three-Dimensional Reconstruction of the Giant Mimivirus Particle with an X-Ray Free-Electron Laser," Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 098102 (2015).


Related Links
American Physical Society
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Australia researchers create 'world first' 3D-printed jet engines
Melbourne (AFP) Feb 26, 2015
Australian researchers said Thursday they have created two jet engines using 3D printing in what is described as a world-first that has attracted the interest of major manufacturers and engineering firms. The machines - produced using the template of a gas turbine engine from French aircraft engine maker Safran, which supplies Airbus and Boeing - demonstrated the potential 3D printing had ... read more

Application of laser microprobe technology to Apollo samples refines lunar impact history

NASA releases video of the far side of the Moon

US Issuing Licenses for Mineral Mining on Moon

LRO finds lunar hydrogen more abundant on Moon's pole-facing slopes

Curiosity confirms methane in Mars' atmosphere

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Drills at 'Telegraph Peak'

How Can We Protect Mars From Earth, While Searching For Life

The Search For Volcanic Eruptions On Mars Reaches The Next Level

Cheap yen, fading Fukushima fears lure Japan tourists

Dubai to build 'Museum of the Future'

Diamantino Sforza - Gentleman Farmer of Prince George's County

Water pools in US astronaut's helmet after spacewalk

Argentina welcomes first Chinese satellite tracking station outside China

More Astronauts for China

China launches the FY-2 08 meteorological satellite successfully

China's Long March puts satellite in orbit on 200th launch

US astronauts speed through spacewalk at orbiting lab

Watching Alloys Change from Liquid to Solid Could Lead to Better Metals

Russia to use International Space Station till 2024

Spacewalk to go ahead on Sunday despite helmet leak

Soyuz Installed at Baikonur, Expected to Launch Wednesday

Next Launch of Heavy Angara-5 Rocket Due Next Year

SES Announces Two Launch Agreements With SpaceX

Leaders share messages, priorities at AFA Symposium

Planets Can Alter Each Other's Climates over Eons

The mystery of cosmic oceans and dunes

Laser 'ruler' holds promise for hunting exoplanets

Scientists predict earth-like planets around most stars

Taiwan snubs Alibaba funding pledge

Sony virtual reality head gear set for 2016 release

Smart crystallization

New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.