PIER Photon Science Colloquium: A personal history of structural virology

by Michael Rossmann (Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)

Friday, January 18, 2013 from to (Europe/Berlin)
at DESY Hamburg ( CFEL Lecture Hall, Bldg. 99 )
The first structural information on viruses came in the 1930s from the work of Bernal and Fankuchen on the rod shaped tobacco necrosis virus. It was also known that other spherical plant viruses could be crystalized. The structure determination of myoglobin and haemoglobin (1959) in Cambridge was a stimulus for further work on plant viruses, although the data collection procedures for the very large unit cells and phase determination procedures using the non-crystallographic symmetry had still to be developed. The first two spherical plant virus structures were published in about 1979. This set the stage for the first small icosahedral animal virus structures, namely a common cold and a polio virus, in 1985. These structures provided insight on the way the virus attaches and enters cells. Larger icosahedral lipid enveloped viruses, such as Sindbis and dengue virus, required a combination of electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography for their structural analysis. Recent efforts have concentrated on electron tomography for viruses.