A single droplet of water containing the flu virus is enough to kill a person because of this microbe’s ability to spread and multiply within the body. The virus is surrounded by a coat made up of proteins that resemble one of our own and this deception allows it to be transported across our cells’ outer layer. Once inside, it hijacks the cell’s control centre (stained blue) to make thousands of copies of itself, then rearranges the cell’s infrastructure (green/yellow) to allow the newly formed viral particles move to the surface (red dots). When ready, the particles bud off into the surrounding tissue complete with their delusory protein coat, leaving the host cell depleted of resources. More cells become infected as the process repeats, until our avenging immune system kicks back. A better understanding of viral ‘budding’ will aid the quest for improved medicines and vaccines.
Written by Julie Webb
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.