The shape of pleomorphic virions determines resistance to cell-entry pressure

The study of viruses is a never-ending battle. Even for well-studied viruses such as the influenza A virus, scientists are continuing to discover new data. A research group in Brandeis University has begun to study the particle structure of viruses to determine how the shape influences infectivity. This study used fluorescently labeled microscope slides, functionalized using N-(2-Aminoethyl)-3-aminopropyl trimethoxysilane (A0700), to discover that the shape of a virus is affected by environmental influences (or pressures), such as immune response. Influenza viruses exhibit spherical shapes when there is little external pressure. These particles use less resources and are faster to enter the body. Once in the body and an immune response is triggered, the virus particles morph into a filamentous shape. At this stage, replication of the virus is enhanced and can enable quicker genetic variation in vaccinated individuals. The researchers believe that further studies could lead to the development of broad-spectrum antiviral treatments, specific for targeting these filamentous viral particles, which could help curb future pandemics.

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