The SINV virus causes the unpleasant sindbis fever common in regions of Africa. Here researchers look for clues to tackling SINV from its structure, using cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) to pick out surface details (top left, middle) and make a computer model (top right). But these are single snapshots – what if we could watch viral particles invading cells in real time? Enter the latest virus-spying tool – a fluorescent ‘tag’. A red fluorescent protein is genetically engineered onto the surface of the virus, partially highlighted in red in Cryo-EM images (bottom left, middle) and in a new computer model (bottom right). This new form of the virus glows cherry red under a fluorescent microscope, making it easier to see the effects of drugs on viral budding – where SINV, like many other viruses, wraps itself in diseased membrane ripped from one infected cell as it spreads to the next.
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.