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Morgridge scientists illuminate structures vital to virus replication

In the fight against the viruses that invade everyday life, seeing and understanding the battleground is essential. Scientists at the Morgridge Institute for Research have, for the first time, imaged molecular structures vital to how a major class of viruses replicates within infected cells.

“The challenge is a bit like being a car mechanic and not being able to see the engine or how it’s put together in detail,” says Paul Ahlquist, director of virology at the Morgridge Institute and professor of oncology and molecular virology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “This work is our first look at the engine.”

The research, published June 27 in the journal eLife, uses pioneering cryo-electron tomography to reveal the complex viral replication process in vivid detail, opening up new avenues to potentially disrupt, dismantle or redirect viral machinery.

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