Herpes Simplex Virus Capsid 3D reconstruction
Three-Dimensional Reconstruction of the Herpes Simplex Virus Capsid against a background of a thin-section image of HSV-1 infected cells.
Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) causes cold sores on the lips or similar blistering of the genitals. Transmission is usually by direct skin-to-skin contact when sores are present.

Infection with herpes simplex is life-long as the virus becomes dormant within nerve cells that are connected to the site of infection. Reactivation of the virus occurs when the immune system is weakened leading to a reoccurrence of the symptoms.

Cryomicroscopy and Three-Dimensional Reconstruction of Herpes Simplex Virus
Rapid freezing of biological specimens such as viruses and infected cells preserves their features for viewing in the electron microscope. Sophisticated computer programs can be used to calculate the three-dimensional structure of viruses from these images.

Thin Sections of Virus infected cells
Herpes Simplex Virus is a very well studied virus as it is easy to grow in the laboratory. Viruses cannot replicate outside of animal cells, so scientists grow cells in plastic bottles, fed by a liquid medium that contains all of the necessary nutrients for the cells to survive. These are then infected with virus to study how it exploits the cells machinery to make copies of itself. To see what the virus is doing inside the infected cells, they are embedded in a plastic resin and cut into very thin sections that can be viewed in the electron microscope.

Image Credits
Thin Sectioning and 3D reconstruction: Frazer Rixon, MRC CVR, Glasgow
3D reconstruction: Wah Chiu, Baylor Medical college, Texas

© 2007 D. Bhella/M. Robertson Molecular Machines/MRC