Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Viruses Being Born

I don't know how long it will be up, but check out the video on the Rockefeller University home page. It shows HIV viruses budding on the surface of a cell, and is the first video ever taken of virus birth.

Using revolutionary microscopy techniques, the Rockefeller team "became the first to document the time it takes for each HIV particle, or virion, to assemble: five to six minutes. “At first, we had no idea whether it would take milliseconds or hours,” says Jouvenet. “We just didn’t know.”

To prove they were observing HIV, the team used fluorescent tagged viral Gag protein.

"Although many different components gather to form a single virion, the Gag protein is the only one necessary for assembly. It attaches to the inner face of the cell’s outer membrane and when enough Gag molecules flood an area, they coalesce in a way that spontaneously forms a sphere.... When enough Gag molecules get close and start bumping into each other, the cell’s outer membrane starts to bulge outward into a budding virion and then pinches off to form an individual, infectious particle."

How cool is that?

Image from the Welcome Trust.


  1. Wow.

    So, apparently, virus particles, at least HIV particles, are not built inside the cell, and then somehow escape. Perhaps everything i know is wrong.