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Measles virus makes 'ball-room dance' type movements to spread

Proteins on the surface of a cell twist a viral protein into position, allowing the virus to start infection and cause Measles, all in a movement as graceful as a ballroom dance, say Mayo Clinic researchers.

A team led by Roberto Cattaneo, a Mayo molecular biologist, has described the crucial initial steps taken by attachment proteins of the measles virus and related respiratory viruses with their cellular partners, the receptors.

According to the researchers, the measles virus is small and has an outer "envelope" with two proteins, one that interacts with a cellular receptor, its dance partner, and another that fuses the viral envelope with the cell membrane, starting infection.

"It was known that the viral attachment proteins always come in pairs, and recently it became clear that two pairs form a quartet.

"Pairs initially face each other, and we show here that the upper bodies separate when the dance begins. We suggest that they then engage a partner from the other pair of the quartet, while the legs are still dancing with those of the original partner," said Cattaneo.
 
 

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