Cryo-electron tomography reveals how enteroviruses – like poliovirus – are packaged and released from cells to spread infection
When a virus infects a human cell, it’s the start of an audacious hijack. The plucky particles 'trick' cells into helping with their replication – here researchers see just how far certain viruses take these liberties. Using cryo-electron microscopy (bottom row) scans assembled and rendered in 3D (above), the team watch particles – virions’ – of poliovirus (red). In an ironic twist they repurpose the cell’s autophagy machinery – which usually helps to destroy viruses. The new virion particles load into a phagophore vesicle (blue) – a bubble-like container that usually transports material to destruction. Instead, vesicles like these burst out of the cell, spreading infection. Polio is an enterovirus, like many common colds, but far more serious. While cases of polio have risen recently, anti-viral medicine that targets autophagy might help to bolster vaccination programmes.
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