Wataru Nishima of the New Mexico Consortium has co-authored a recent publication showing a computational approach to provide insight into the structure of both Ebola and Zika viruses as they invade a host’s cells.
Both the Ebola and Zika viruses are similar in how they first infiltrate a host’s cells. They use a surface protein in a process called “membrane fusion” where the virus gains entry into the host cell. Before the fusion takes place, the proteins must go through changes in shape in order to fuse with the cell. In this study, the scientists modeled the protein’s structures while in the membrane fusion state. From their models, they have learned how different antibodies in our body can fight the infection and block the virus from entering.
This research will be useful in medical applications to fight off Ebola and Zika in the future. The publication, Structural Transition and Antibody Binding of EBOV GP and ZIKV E Proteins from Pre-Fusion to Fusion-Initiation State, has been published in Biomolecules. The authors are Anna Lappala, Wataru Nishima, Jacob Miner, Paul Fenimore, Will Fischer, Peter Hraber, Benjamin McMahon and Chang-Shung Tung of Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as Ming Zhang of the University of Georgia. Nishima is also a member of the New Mexico Consortium.
Los Alamos National Laboratory’s article: Mapping the body’s battle with Ebola and Zika