Image Credit: Hu et. al. 2013. Science Express
For the first time, researchers have observed a virus infecting a bacterial cell. The images reveal the structural changes that the virus goes through to allow it to infect a host. The virus, called T7, extends its tail fibers to identify a potential host. T7 undergoes structural changes that enable it to inject its proteins through the bacterial cell membrane. This creates an avenue for the virus to inject its DNA into the bacterium.
According to researcher Ian Molineux, "Although many of these details are specific to T7, the overall process completely changes our understanding of how a virus infects a cell." The researchers discovered that the virus tail fibers are normally bound to its capsid as opposed to being extended as formerly thought. They also demonstrated how T7 uses its tail fibers to "walk" over the surface of a cell to find an infection site.
Learn more about this study, see:
- Virus Caught in the Act of Infecting a Cell (Science Daily)