Sunday, February 12, 2012

Talk on Virus Particle Maturation

After I made sure myself done my duties and sent in my samples for mass spectrometry, I got to walk in to the talk I had been noting down on my schedule, Virus Particle Maturation: insights into elegantly programmed nanomachines by Professor John E. Johnson. I missed his introduction part but managed to catch up as it was just at the first few slides.

The first part encompassed the message ‘Do not throw away your old records!’. This was the part the speaker told us the process of getting the size of the virus particle. At the same time, they tried to figure out the components as well. In between, they used crystallography to determine the size of the particle at different stage. From each data given, proposed structure was given. Of course, they did not stop just there as they furthered their experiment with other methods to back what they believed to be a much concrete evidence. The speaker did successfully deliver the presentation in a rather simple way. I am glad to understand most of it, really.

For some of you who wondered why did they did the study on a virus particle, here is some of the explanation. They found out that these particle could actually invade peptidoglycans in some microorganism (At least that’s what I remember from the slide). And they used the same theory on bacteriophage head, which looked same and function almost similarly, by packing DNA inside. They were pretty much interested to find out how did such a initially pretty fragile structure would strengthen as DNA was packed inside, filling the inner space with pressure. Turned out that the structures of pentagoras and hexagoras interlocked with each other. As the tension in the ‘sphere’ increased, the angle of lock would flattened and making the locks strengthened.

At least these are roughly what I could do to summarize what I understood. It was an interesting talk and one that reminds me to do loads of readings and learning in order to fully understand it next time!

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