BSIP VEM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BSIP VEM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
HIV virus. Illustration of a cross-section through an HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the cause of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In the core are the two strands of RNA (Ribonucleic Acid, purple), which carry the viral genes. Associated with these is the enzyme reverse transcriptase (green dots), which inserts the genes into the host cell's DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid). The RNA is enclosed in two protein coats (red and purple) made of repeating subunits called capsomeres (spheres). Around these is the membrane, a lipid bilayer (orange), which is studded with glycoproteins which bind to the human white blood cells that HIV infects.
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