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Isn't it Virionic?

Cryo-electron tomography reveals how enteroviruses – like poliovirus – are packaged and released from cells to spread infection

18 December 2022

Isn't it Virionic?

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.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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