MADISON, Wis. In a pair of landmark studies that exploit the genetic sequencing of the "missing link" cold virus, rhinovirus C, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have constructed a three-dimensional model of the pathogen that shows why there is no cure yet for the common cold.
Writing today (Oct. 28, 2013) in the journal Virology, a team led by UW-Madison biochemistry Professor Ann Palmenberg provides a meticulous topographical model of the capsid or protein shell of a cold virus that until 2006 was unknown to science.
Rhinovirus C is believed to be responsible for up to half of all childhood colds, and is a serious complicating factor for respiratory conditions such as asthma. Together with rhinoviruses A and B, the recently discovered virus is responsible for millions of illnesses yearly at an estimated annual cost of more than $40 billion in the United States alone.
The work is important because it sculpts a highly detailed structural model of the virus, showing that the protein shell of the virus is distinct from those of other strains of cold viruses.
"The question we sought to answer was how is it different and what can we do about it? We found it is indeed quite different," says Palmenberg, noting that the new structure "explains most of the previous failures of drug trials against rhinovirus."
The A and B families of cold virus, including their three-dimensional structures, have long been known to science as they can easily be grown and studied in the lab. Rhinovirus C, on the other hand, resists culturing and escaped notice entirely until 2006 when "gene chips" and advanced gene sequencing revealed the virus had long been lurking in human cells alongside the more observable A and B virus strains.
The new cold virus model was built "in silico," drawing on advanced bioinformatics and the genetic sequences of 500 rhinovirus C genomes, which provided the three-dimensional coordina
|Contact: Ann C. Palmenberg|
University of Wisconsin-Madison