OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH AND PARTNERSHIPS » Spring 2016, Vol. 7 Issue 3
A team led by Purdue University researchers is the first to determine the
structure of the Zika virus, revealing insights critical to the development of
effective antiviral treatments and vaccines.
The team also identified regions within the Zika virus structure where it
differs from other flaviviruses, the family of viruses to which Zika belongs
that includes dengue, West Nile, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and
tick-borne encephalitic viruses.
A paper detailing the findings was published in March in the journal
Science and is available online.
“The structure of the virus provides a map that shows potential regions of
the virus that could be targeted by a therapeutic treatment, used to create an
effective vaccine or to improve our ability to diagnose and distinguish Zika infec-
tion from that of other related viruses,” says Richard Kuhn, director of the Purdue
Institute for Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Diseases (PI4D), who led
the research team with Michael Rossmann, Purdue’s Hanley Distinguished Professor of
The university’s recently announced $250 million investment in the life sciences funded the
purchase of advanced equipment that allowed the team to do in a couple of months what
otherwise would have taken years, Rossmann says.
“We were able to determine through cryo-electron microscopy the virus structure at a resolution that previously would only have been possible through X-ray crystallography,” he says. ;
Researchers Reveal Zika Virus Structure
Zhenguo Chen, Devika Sirohi, Richard Kuhn, Michael Rossmann,
Thomas Klose and Lei Sun are members of a team of researchers
studying the structure of the Zika virus.