The Catholic University of America



Dr. Venigalla Rao, chair of the department of biology at The Catholic University of America, recently coedited with Prof. Michael G. Rossmann from Purdue University a book titled "Viral Molecular Machines" (Springer, New York 2012) as part of a series titled "Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology". Sixty-three authors, leaders in the field at the cutting edge of virus research, contributed to the 28 chapters that span topics that range from viruses as sophisticated biological machines to viruses as early entry machines, genome replication machines, capsid assembly and maturation systems, and genome packaging machines.
The authors write, “Although viruses [since their discovery in 1892] had been considered as merely dull, static containers, and protectors of genomes, this false concept was replaced by the realization that viruses are beautiful intricate machines, essential to biological evolution, capable of invading cells, stealthily avoiding the protective barriers of the host, usurping the host’s synthetic machinery for their own survival and able to self-assemble into complex molecular machines. Indeed it has become apparent that the capabilities of viral machines far exceed those of the simple enzymes first studied in the mid-twentieth century. This book is a partial description of the amazing things accomplished by viruses in infecting a host and replicating themselves.”
The second chapter deals with the F1-ATPase rotary motor that makes ATP and is the prototypical machine related to many other viral molecular machines. The third chapter describes a major innovative new tool called cryo microscopy used to study huge conformational changes that viruses undergo during their life cycle. The fourth chapter discusses the principles of virus structure.
The remaining chapters focus on the consecutive events in the life cycle of virus. 
A copy of this book can be found in the biology library located on the second floor of the Nursing-Biology Building on the university’s campus.