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Viral nucleic acid

  • Viruses contain a single kind of nucleic acid, either DNA or RNA
  • The genome - single-stranded or double-stranded, circular/ linear and segmented/ unsegmented 
  1. Lipid envelope
    A number of viruses contain lipid envelope acquired when the viral nucleocapsid buds through a cellular membrane (cytoplasmic or nuclear membrane) in the course of maturation
    Budding occurs only at sites where virus-specific proteins have been inserted in the host membrane.
    Enveloped viruses are sensitive to treatment with ether and other organic solvents
  2. Surface glycoproteins
    Viral envelope contains glycoproteins (peplomers), which project as spikes. In contrast to the lipids in the viral membranes, the envelope glycoproteins are virus encoded. For e.g. hemagglutinin and neuraminidase in influenza virus.
  3. Functions:
    a. Mediate attachment of the virus to the host cell receptor
    b. Some attach to receptors on the red blood cells leading to hemagglutination
    c. Some cleave neuraminic acid from the from host cell glycoproteins (neuraminidase/ receptor destroying enzyme)      

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