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Sturdy Viral Architecture

Detailed structure of human enteric adenovirus provides insight into its effects and how to treat them

27 January 2021

Sturdy Viral Architecture

This illustration shows the most detailed structure to-date of a human enteric adenovirus – a primary causative agent of diarrhoea and diarrhoea-related deaths worldwide. Unlike other types of adenovirus, such as the ones that infect the respiratory tract or those that have been engineered to make vaccines, enteric ones are capable of withstanding the highly acidic environment of the stomach. The new structural details of the virus, which were obtained using cryogenic electron microscopy – an approach that provides near-atomic level resolution – reveal the specific features of the virus’s protein shell that provide this structural robustness. Excitingly, such insights may not only help to explain how the virus survives the stomach’s harsh conditions and infects gut cells, but also lead to the development of similarly sturdy adenovirus-based vaccines that could be taken by mouth rather than by injection.

Written by Ruth Williams

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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