A research team at Tufts University and the University of Pennsylvania have uncovered the unusual structure of a key member of the protein complex that allows a herpes virus to invade cells. The new map details an essential piece of the herpes virus “cell-entry machinery,” that provides scientists with a new target for antiviral drugs.
“We hope that determining the structure of this essential piece of the herpes virus cell-entry machinery will help us answer some of the many questions about how herpes virus initiates infection. Knowing the structures of cell-entry proteins will help us find the best strategy for interfering with this pervasive family of viruses,” said Tirumala K. Chowdary, a postdoctoral associate at Tufts.
For now, there is no cure for herpes viruses. Upon infection, the viruses remain in the body for life and can stay inactive for long periods of time. When active, these various herpes viruses can cause cold sores, blindness, encephalitis or cancers.