AIDS virus particle, computer artwork

AIDS virus particle, computer artwork

M050/1179 Rights Managed

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Credit: MEHAU KULYK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: HIV particle, computer artwork. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The outer layer of the virus particle is a membrane envelope (brown) made from the membrane of the host cell in which it developed. The membrane encloses an icosahedral (20-sided) matrix layer (outlined in red), which surrounds the inner ribonucleic acid (RNA) genome. One of these sides is highlighted in yellow, which could represent a biohazard warning sign. Surface knobs (pink) allow the virus particle to attach to host cells. HIV attacks lymphocyte white blood cells, which play an important role in the immune system. This severely impairs the immune system, allowing normally harmless infections to become life threatening.

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