Daily Current Affairs – 2020Topic: For Prelims and Mains
Viruses are small obligate intracellular parasites, which by definition contain either a RNA or DNA genome surrounded by a protective, virus-coded protein coat. Viruses may be viewed as mobile genetic elements, most probably of cellular origin and characterized by a long co-evolution of virus and host.
For propagation viruses depend on specialized host cells supplying the complex metabolic and biosynthetic machinery of eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells. A complete virus particle is called a virion.
The main function of the virion is to deliver its DNA or RNA genome into the host cell so that the genome can be expressed (transcribed and translated) by the host cell.
The viral genome, often with associated basic proteins, is packaged inside a symmetric protein capsid.
The nucleic acid-associated protein, called nucleoprotein, together with the genome, forms the nucleocapsid.
In enveloped viruses, the nucleocapsid is surrounded by a lipid bilayer derived from the modified host cell membrane and studded with an outer layer of virus envelope glycoproteins.
Morphology: Viruses are grouped on the basis of size and shape, chemical composition and structure of the genome, and mode of replication. Helical morphology is seen in nucleocapsids of many filamentous and pleomorphic viruses.
Helical nucleocapsids consist of a helical array of capsid proteins (protomers) wrapped around a helical filament of nucleic acid.
Icosahedral morphology is characteristic of the nucleocapsids of many “spherical” viruses. The number and arrangement of the capsomeres (morphologic subunits of the icosahedron) are useful in identification and classification. Many viruses also have an outer envelope.
Chemical Composition and Mode of Replication: The genome of a virus may consist of DNA or RNA, which may be single stranded (ss) or double stranded (ds), linear or circular.
The entire genome may occupy either one nucleic acid molecule (monopartite genome) or several nucleic acid segments (multipartite genome). The different types of genome necessitate different replication strategies.
In addition, the RNA strand of a single-stranded genome may be either a sense strand (plus strand), which can function as messenger RNA (mRNA), or an antisense strand (minus strand), which is complementary to the sense strand and cannot function as mRNA protein translation .
Sense viral RNA alone can replicate if injected into cells, since it can function as mRNA and initiate translation of virus-encoded proteins. Antisense RNA, on the other hand, has no translational function and cannot per se produce viral components.
According to a study, ACE-2 enzymes are responsible for why men seem to be more vulnerable to Covid-19 than women.