Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Virus

In 2010, the Visual Science company developed this detailed model of the influenza A (H1N1) virus. (Note that only the viral envelope is visible in this visualization; the nucleocapsid core is hidden inside.) The shape of the virion, which ranges from 80 to 170 nm in diameter, and the density of the surface proteins were modeled according to cryo-electron microscopy data.1 The tertiary structure of the viral proteins—hemagglutinin (red), neuraminidase (large black), and M2-protein channels (small black)—were modeled using data from X-ray crystallography.

These proteins facilitate binding of the virus to host cell receptors, subsequent endosomal fusion and viral release from the cells.2 The … M2-protein channels … play a critical role in the early phase of infection leading to the uncoating and release of viral RNP.3

Individual atoms of phospholipid molecules (orange) comprising the membrane are also observable.

References: (1) A. Harris et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; (2) J. J. Skehel and D. C. Wiley, Annual Review of Biochemistry; (3) D. P. Nayak et al., Virus Research.

Image credit: the Visual Science company.

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