LAGUNA DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LAGUNA DESIGN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Simian rotavirus capsid, molecular model. This virus is named for its ability to infect the higher primates (simians). Rotaviruses, transmitted by faecal-oral contact, cause severe diarrhoea in infants and the young. In viruses, the capsid is the protein shell that encloses the genetic material. A capsid consists of subunits called capsomeres that self-assemble to form the shell seen here. Here, this shell, approximately spherical in shape, has icosahedral symmetry. One of the functions of the capsid is to aid the transmission of the viral genetic material into host cells.
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