RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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AIDS virion protein shell, artwork. AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This is the matrix protein shell of an HIV particle, and is named the MA (p17gag) shell. Trimers of the protein are seen as Y-shaped units (blue). These align to form the hexagonal holes in the lattice. The geometry then forms 20 triangular sides of an icosahedron. Not shown are the genetic viral core that lies inside this matrix protein shell, and the plasma membrane that would cover this shell. This structure is based on crystallographic and electron microscopy data. AIDS impairs the immune system and allows often fatal secondary infections.
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