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Nature Structural Biology has just gone online as an electronic journal, and anxious to put their best foot forward, the editors chose a cyanobacterial piece of work as the lead article: Solution structure of cyanovirin-N, a potent HIV-inactivating protein [Bewley et al (1998) Nature Struct Biol 5:571-578]. Cyanovirin is a 101 amino acid peptide produced by Nostoc ellipsosporum, unlike any other protein thus far characterized. It has generated interest by its ability to inactivate HIV by interacting with the virus' surface envelope glycoprotein gp120. The protein has been overproduced in E.coli, good news for those interested in clinical trials. Unfortunately, for those more interested in cyanobacteria, the natural function of the protein is a complete mystery.
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