LAGUNA DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LAGUNA DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
AIDS virus capsid. Computer artwork of the capsid (red) and surface proteins (blue and yellow) of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The capsid (protein shell) surrounds an inner genetic core (not seen). The surface proteins allow the virus particle to attach to its target cells. The capsid is icosahedral (20-sided). 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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