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.
Written by John Ankers
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