Microorganisms: Viruses Terms
Get down with the lingo
AcyclovirA drug that targets herpesvirus thymidine kinase.
AntigenA part of a protein that is recognized by the immune system.
Antiviral DrugA drug that specifically blocks virus replication.
Attenuated StrainA type of virus that has been weakened and is not as able to cause disease.
AzidothymidineA compound also known as AZT, or one of the first anti-retroviral drugs.
BacteriophageA virus that infects bacteria. It’s the turducken of infectious diseases.
CapsidThe protein coat that protects a virus. Like virus Kevlar.
EnvelopeA lipid bilayer that surrounds some types of viruses.
GlycoproteinA membrane protein found in the envelopes of viruses. These proteins are often involved in protecting a virus from the host immune system, or determining what type of cells a virus enters.
Helical CapsidA type of capsid where proteins wind around the virus genome, like a spiral staircase.
Helper VirusA virus that infects a cell with another virus and helps that other virus replicate in the cell.
HostAn organism that has another organism living inside it.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)A retrovirus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
IcosahedronA type of capsid structure that resembles 20-sided dice. It’s one of the main reasons Dungeons and Dragons players love viruses.
Inactivated VaccineA vaccine where an inactivated virus is used to promote the immune system and protect against future virus infections.
Infectious DiseaseA disease that is spread through infection, usually by ebacteria or viruss.
LysisThe breaking of a cell, usually through overproduction of virus particles.
Lysogenic CycleA type of replication in certain viruses that infect bacteria (bacteriophages), where the bacteriophage integrates into the bacterial genome.
Lytic CycleA type of replication in bacteriophages where they grow in a bacterium to the point that they lyse the cell.
Major Histocompatibility ComplexA protein complex used by the immune system to recognize foreign proteins and protect against infection.
Obligate Intracellular ParasiteAn organism or virus that can only survive by using nutrients of a host cell to replicate.
PlaqueA clearing out of cells on a culture dish by a single infectious virus unit.
PolymeraseA protein that is responsible for replicating RNA or DNA genomes.
PolyproteinMultiple proteins linked together. These proteins are cleaved by enzymes, called proteases, to produce functional proteins.
PrionAn infectious protein responsible for diseases like kuru and mad cow disease. Prions are able to cause disease and infect without DNA or RNA genomes.
ProdromeA period of an infection where the largest amount of virus is made, prior to the onset of symptoms.
ProphageThe genome of a bacteriophage that integrates into the bacterial genome.
ProteaseA protein that a virus uses to cleave other proteins, usually viral proteins. Many viruses make polyproteins that are processed by proteases to make functional proteins.
Protease InhibitorA drug that is responsible for inhibiting the activity of viral proteases.
ProtovirusA retrovirus genome that integrates into a host eukaryotic genome.
PseudotypeThe process of replacing one viral protein with a virus protein from another type of virus.
QuasispeciesViruses that are highly similar to one another but sufficiently different through nucleotide mutations. These differences are essentially equivalent to the point that none of these viruses have evolutionary advantageous mutations.
ReceptorA protein that a virus binds to enter into a cell.
Restriction FactorA host protein that blocks virus replication.
RetrovirusA virus that replicates by converting its RNA genome into a DNA genome that integrates into the host chromosome.
Reverse TranscriptaseA retrovirus enzyme that converts RNA into a DNA.
T CellA type of immune cells that recognizes foreign proteins and either kills cells that are infected or activates immune cells to clear pathogens from the host.
Temperate PhageA bacteriophage that is capable of entering a lysogenic cycle.
TitreThe amount of virus in a given sample, usually determined with the units: plaque forming units (pfu) per milliliter.
VaccineA solution that improves the body’s immunity against certain types of infection.
ViroidA single-stranded RNA plant pathogen that is different from viruses in that it does not have a protein coat or envelope.
VirologyThe study of viruses.
VirulentThe ability of a parasite to cause disease in a host organism.
VirusA small infectious agent that can only replicate inside of living cells, ranging from plants, animals, and bacteria, to archaea. Virus genetic information is encoded in either RNA or DNA and requires the host cell to make proteins.
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