On the cover

For the last 65 years, it has been understood that most viruses are either spherical (icosahedral) or rod-like (helical). However, many spindle-shaped (or lemon-shaped) viruses that infect archaea have been found, and these have appeared to be inconsistent with this paradigm. In this issue, Wang et al. (1297–1307) show how the spindle shape is due to strands of hydrophobic subunits that can slide past each other, allowing quasi-equivalent interactions to be maintained. These quasi-equivalent interactions extend seamlessly into the helical tails that can emerge from the spindle-shaped body of the virions. Since the internal pressure of the genome causes a structure that would be rod-like to bulge, it suggests how such helical viruses evolved to become spindle shaped to accommodate larger genomes. The cover shows an electron micrograph of negatively stained spindle-shaped virions that infect hyperthermophilic archaea. Image from Virginija Cvirkaite-Krupovic.

Who are we

We come from different backgrounds as scientists and together we have created a strong team that uses Cryo-Electron Microscopy to solve many challenging problems.

The Laboratory

We are based in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Virginia.