Part I: Virus Structures
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Harrison begins his talk by asking why most non-enveloped viruses and some enveloped viruses are symmetrical in shape. He proceeds to show us lovely images of the structures obtained by x-ray crystallography of numerous viral coat proteins. Deciphering these structures allowed scientists to understand that viral coat proteins form multimers, such as dimers and pentamers, which in turn interact with a scaffold that ensures that the coat proteins are correctly placed. This arrangement results in symmetrically shaped viruses. More >>
Stephen Harrison received his A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He became interested in molecular structures and began his studies using X-ray crystallography as a graduate student. After receiving his Ph.D., he remained at Harvard and continued his work to improve the resolution of the tomato bushy stunt virus structure. In 1977, after 7 years of study, Harrison obtained the first high-resolution structure of any virus particle. Currently, Harrison is a professor at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital, Boston. He is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His lab studies the atomic structure of macromolecular complexes including viruses and the molecules with which they interact. Harrison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences amongst other honors.