RESOURCES: Viral Visions

Science  18 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5712, pp. 1021c
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5712.1021c

The surface of a virus reveals how the infectious particle breaks into cells and possibly how to thwart it. Researchers can view and analyze the exteriors of 200 viral varieties at the freshly revamped VIPERdb, from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. The site draws on structural coordinates stashed in the Protein Data Bank, allowing users to study different aspects of each virus's architecture. Choosing the mosquito-borne Sindbis virus, for instance, calls up images that illustrate its overall structure, show how its proteins fit together, and more. Other features identify the strongest and weakest interactions between sections of the virus, which can help researchers pinpoint its vulnerable spots. The recent upgrade tripled the number of viruses in the database and added tools for comparing viral characteristics.

The intricacies of viral surface structure are also on display at this colorful gallery from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Images and animations afford a close look at the Flock House virus, the Semliki Forest virus, and more than 30 other types.

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