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The bumpy exterior of the turnip yellow mosaic virus (TYMV) protein coat, or capsid, was defined in detail by Dr. Alexander McPherson of the University of California, Irvin using proteins crystallized in space for analysis on Earth. TYMV is an icosahedral virus constructed from 180 copies of the same protein arranged into 12 clusters of five proteins (pentamers), and 20 clusters of six proteins (hexamers). The final TYMV structure led to the unexpected hypothesis that the virus releases its RNA by essentially chemical-mechanical means. Most viruses have fairly flat coats, but in TYNV, the fold in each protein, called the jellyroll, is clustered at the points where the protein pentamers and hexamers join. The jellyrolls are almost standing on end, producing a bumpy surface with knobs at all of the pentamers and hexamers. At the inside surface of the pentamers is a void that is not present at the hexamers. The coating had been seen in early stuties of TYMV, but McPherson's atomic structure shows much more detail. The inside surface is strikingly, and unexpectedly, different than the outside. While the pentamers contain a central void on the inside, the hexameric units contain peptides linked to each other, forming a ring or, more accurately, rings to fill the void. Credit: Dr. Alexander McPherson, University of California, Irvine Free Stock Images from PikWizard

The bumpy exterior of the turnip yellow mosaic virus (TYMV) protein coat, or capsid, was defined in detail by Dr. Alexander McPherson of the University of California, Irvin using proteins crystallized in space for analysis on Earth. TYMV is an icosahedral virus constructed from 180 copies of the same protein arranged into 12 clusters of five proteins (pentamers), and 20 clusters of six proteins (hexamers). The final TYMV structure led to the unexpected hypothesis that the virus releases its RNA by essentially chemical-mechanical means. Most viruses have fairly flat coats, but in TYNV, the fold in each protein, called the jellyroll, is clustered at the points where the protein pentamers and hexamers join. The jellyrolls are almost standing on end, producing a bumpy surface with knobs at all of the pentamers and hexamers. At the inside surface of the pentamers is a void that is not present at the hexamers. The coating had been seen in early stuties of TYMV, but McPherson's atomic structure shows much more detail. The inside surface is strikingly, and unexpectedly, different than the outside. While the pentamers contain a central void on the inside, the hexameric units contain peptides linked to each other, forming a ring or, more accurately, rings to fill the void. Credit: Dr. Alexander McPherson, University of California, Irvine

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