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Griffithsin in complex with a high-mannose branched carbohydrate. PDB3ll2
Griffithsin shows a broad spectrum ability to bind to the glycoproteins of other viruses, such as the coronavirus. Griffithsin's three identical carbohydrate domains bind to specific oligosaccharides on the envelope of viral glycoproteins. This was demonstrated by in vitro and in vivo studies. For instance, it was shown that griffithsin binds to the SARS-CoV spike glycoprotein to inhibit entry of the SARS virus and thus inhibit infection.
As reported in March 2009, Kenneth Palmer and coworkers modified the tobacco mosaic virus to incorporate the griffithsin gene and infected more than 9,300 tobacco plants. They were able to extract enough griffithsin to produce about 100,000 HIV microbicide doses from the leaves.