Research Topic

Structural biology for virus research

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Viruses are absolutely and strictly dependent on target host cells for their replication. However, they have their own unique strategies at each replication step from the entry into cells, transcription, translation, assembly of viral genome/proteins, and up to the release of progeny virions from cells. We ...

Viruses are absolutely and strictly dependent on target host cells for their replication. However, they have their own unique strategies at each replication step from the entry into cells, transcription, translation, assembly of viral genome/proteins, and up to the release of progeny virions from cells. We virologists have to understand these complex biological interactions between viruses and host cells. Importantly, extensive studies based on bio-structural technology have revealed in succession the detailed and bottom line mechanisms of viral replication processes otherwise impossible. We now know the highly dynamic nature of viral genome/proteins, and are impressed by their ingeniously organized functionality in hostile host environments. For characterization of viruses as a unique genetic entity and pathogenic agent, it has been critical to investigate thoroughly the individual viral components and host factors involved in the virus replication cycle. Because many viral and cellular factors essential for viral replication and pathogenicity have been newly discovered through the efforts of virologists, the necessity of contribution to the progress of virology by the structural biology is now greatly increasing. To fully understand precise mechanisms underlying the functional interaction of viral and host molecules, needless to say, it is crucially required to have their structural information. We need to know molecular details of the nucleic acids, proteins, and interacting molecules. The information indispensable for understanding certain biological phenomena may only be provided by high-resolution three-dimensional structures. Of note, a number of anti-viral drugs have been generated based on the structural information. The interacting interfaces between virus and host components, which are important for viral replication, can be potent targets for anti-viral drugs. Their structural characterization would lead to designing rigid anti-viral drugs and/or vaccines.

In this Research Topic, we wish to summarize and review what the structural biology has accomplished so far to resolve the important virological issues. We also wish to describe the perspective of the structural biology for the future virology. Finally, the presentation of ongoing original works is greatly encouraged.


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