The imaging of vanishingly tiny structures created by the foot-and-mouth disease virus could one day help scientists develop new treatments for infected animals.
In a new study published today, biologists from Leeds in collaboration with colleagues at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research observed the interaction between components of the virus in test tube experiments under bio-secure conditions.
The resulting images revealed the formation of tube-like structures called fibrils which emerged when the components were mixed in vitro and began to replicate.
But when the proteins were manipulated to prevent the virus genome from replicating, the fibrils did not form.
The scientists behind the discovery concluded that these fibrils could play a key role in the virus's ability to replicate, a highly complex process that is not fully understood.
The findings could lead to further developments in treatments for diseases caused by the virus.
Senior author Dr. Eleni-Anna Loundras, currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Pirbright Institute, carried out the research as part of her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology in Leeds's Faculty of Biological Science.
She said, "These significant findings shed light on the key molecular interactions and dynamics involved within these complicated viral replication complexes, which we still have much to learn about.
"This exciting model has helped us to observe regions that could be of interest to target for antiviral treatment."Click here to see more...