All viruses are tiny, microscopic organisms. That includes the human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV), which is just 0.1 micron [a ten millionth of a metre] in diameter. The diagram shows the HIV particle, magnifying some key proteins encoded in its genome
. These can be separated into three groups with unique functions; structural proteins (blue) to attach and detach from cells, viral enzymes (pink) crucial for making more viruses, and accessory proteins (green) which help infect and take over cellular processes. The image was produced by the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics (RCSB) as part of their Molecule of Month series. This is one example of how the RCSB is using their Protein Data Bank
curricula as an “educational portal [to] allow non-expert users to explore biology through a structural lens” and to engage children in learning more complex health-related topics such as HIV and, beginning in 2016, type 2 diabetes mellitus
Written by Matt Atherton
Matt is an environmental scientist turned science journalist, after completing degrees at the University of Plymouth and City University London respectively. Matt specialises in communicating health issues to the public.