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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Houston, Texas

Images from biochemistry and molecular biology research
Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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B. V. Venkataram Prasad, Ph.D.

B. V. Venkataram Prasad, Ph.D.

Alvin Romansky Chair in Biochemistry

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Division of Molecular Virology

Education and Awards

  • Ph.D., Molecular Biophysics, 1981, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
  • Postdoctoral, Biochemistry, University of Arizona
  • Indian National Science Academy Medal for Young Scientists, 1983

Structural Studies on Animal Viruses

Research in our laboratory is focused on determining structure-function relationships in medically important viruses that are pathogens to humans and other animals. The current focus is on viruses that are causative agents of endemic severe diarrhea in humans. These viruses include rotavirus, calicivirus, and Norwalk virus. Rotavirus is the major pathogen of infantile gastroentritis. More than a million children die every year worldwide because of rotaviral gastroentritis. Recently, several other viruses, including calicivirus and Norwalk virus, also have been shown to be causative agents of pediatric diarrhea. Our three-dimensional structural analyses have provided architectural descriptions of these viruses. Our studies using monoclonal antibodies, reassortants, and baculovirus-expressed virus-like particles have provided insights into the molecular mechanisms of cell entry, infectivity, transcription, and assembly of rotavirus. Rotavirus is a member of the virus family Reoviridae. Comparative structural analysis of other members in this family, such as blue-tongue virus and aquareovirus, is being carried out to provide a unified picture of the molecular mechanisms underlying the morphogenesis and pathogenesis of these large, complex, multi-layered viruses.

We perform our three-dimensional structural analyses by using electron cryomicroscopy and computer image-processing techniques. In favorable circumstances, x-ray crystallography is being used to study either entire virus particles or their protein components. We have recently determined the structure of Norwalk virus capsids to atomic resolution by using x-ray crystallographic techniques.

Low dose electron micrograph of a double-shelled rotavirus embedded in vitreous ice.

Low-dose electron micrograph of double-shelled rotavirus particles embedded in vitreous ice.
Arrows indicate the spikes emanating from the surface of the virions.

Prasad Illustration 2

Surface representation of the three-dimensional structure of the double-shelled rotavirus.

View articles published by Dr. Prasad

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