RNA-genome tobacco mosaic virus shown in red, protein shown in blue. The RNA is normally completely coated and the virions can remain stable in solution for decades. Reference Citation: Namba, K., Pattanayek, R., Stubbs, G. (1989) Visualization of protein-nucleicacid interactions in a virus. Refined structure of intact tobacco mosaic virus at 2.9 A resolution by X-ray fiber diffraction. J. Mol Biol. 208-307. More information about the virus can be found on the Protein Data Bank site PDB entry code 2TMV (Image provided by: Jean-Yves Sgro, Institute for Molecular Virology).
Viruses cause an astonishing variety of acute diseases, are associated with at least 15-20% of human cancers, are widely suspected to contribute to other chronic diseases including neurological disorders, and are among the greatest potential bioterrorism threats. In addition to established viruses, the U.S. Institute of Medicine predicts that many more emerging new viruses like HIV and the SARS virus will appear in coming years. Simultaneously, viruses are a major source of new insights into normal cell biology and serve as important tools for biomedicine, biotechnology and nanotechnology.
UW-Madison and its Cellular and Molecular Biology graduate program have a large, diverse collection of interactive groups using viruses to study genetics, immunology, receptor function, translation, nucleic acid replication, transcription, protein-nucleic acid interactions, macromolecular assembly, apoptosis and other processes. Students receive broad training in molecular biology and associated disciplines while using viruses to define basic concepts in biology and to understand virus-host interactions in disease.