Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 7th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Virus Ahoy!
17 December 2013

Virus Ahoy!

The influenza virus is a plucky parasite; exploiting any cells it infects to spread its disease. Here, two stages from a computer simulation show the spiky ‘limbs’ of influenza particles (haemagglutinin, pictured in orange) bursting out from the membrane of an infected cell. As more spikes cluster together (lower picture), the membrane’s swirling currents of fatty lipids (coloured light and dark blue) reorganise to form a ‘raft’ around the virus. This supportive gesture could spell the end for cells in real tissues. Viral particles mould huge chunks of torn-away membrane into vesicles – lipid bubbles used like submarines to float the virus towards new healthy cells. Investigating how lipid rafts are formed may reveal crucial weaknesses in this process of viral 'budding', just one of many ruthless ways in which viruses can spread inside our bodies.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

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.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.