Study Guide

Microorganisms: Viruses Terms

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Microorganisms: Viruses Terms


A drug that targets herpesvirus thymidine kinase.


A part of a protein that is recognized by the immune system.

Antiviral Drug

A drug that specifically blocks virus replication.

Attenuated Strain

A type of virus that has been weakened and is not as able to cause disease.


A compound also known as AZT, or one of the first anti-retroviral drugs.


A virus that infects bacteria. It’s the turducken of infectious diseases.


The protein coat that protects a virus. Like virus Kevlar.


A lipid bilayer that surrounds some types of viruses.


A 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 Capsid

A type of capsid where proteins wind around the virus genome, like a spiral staircase.

Helper Virus

A virus that infects a cell with another virus and helps that other virus replicate in the cell.


An organism that has another organism living inside it.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

A retrovirus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).


A type of capsid structure that resembles 20-sided dice. It’s one of the main reasons Dungeons and Dragons players love viruses.

Inactivated Vaccine

A vaccine where an inactivated virus is used to promote the immune system and protect against future virus infections.

Infectious Disease

A disease that is spread through infection, usually by ebacteria or viruss.


The breaking of a cell, usually through overproduction of virus particles.

Lysogenic Cycle

A type of replication in certain viruses that infect bacteria (bacteriophages), where the bacteriophage integrates into the bacterial genome.

Lytic Cycle

A type of replication in bacteriophages where they grow in a bacterium to the point that they lyse the cell.

Major Histocompatibility Complex

A protein complex used by the immune system to recognize foreign proteins and protect against infection.

Obligate Intracellular Parasite

An organism or virus that can only survive by using nutrients of a host cell to replicate.


A clearing out of cells on a culture dish by a single infectious virus unit.


A protein that is responsible for replicating RNA or DNA genomes.


Multiple proteins linked together. These proteins are cleaved by enzymes, called proteases, to produce functional proteins.


An infectious protein responsible for diseases like kuru and mad cow disease. Prions are able to cause disease and infect without DNA or RNA genomes.


A period of an infection where the largest amount of virus is made, prior to the onset of symptoms.


The genome of a bacteriophage that integrates into the bacterial genome.


A 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 Inhibitor

A drug that is responsible for inhibiting the activity of viral proteases.


A retrovirus genome that integrates into a host eukaryotic genome.


The process of replacing one viral protein with a virus protein from another type of virus.


Viruses 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.


A protein that a virus binds to enter into a cell.

Restriction Factor

A host protein that blocks virus replication.


A virus that replicates by converting its RNA genome into a DNA genome that integrates into the host chromosome.

Reverse Transcriptase

A retrovirus enzyme that converts RNA into a DNA.

T Cell

A 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 Phage

A bacteriophage that is capable of entering a lysogenic cycle.


The amount of virus in a given sample, usually determined with the units: plaque forming units (pfu) per milliliter.


A solution that improves the body’s immunity against certain types of infection.


A single-stranded RNA plant pathogen that is different from viruses in that it does not have a protein coat or envelope.


The study of viruses.


Dangerous; infective; contagious; extremely harmful


A 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.

Roots of Common Terms in Microorganisms: Viruses

(L = Latin, G = Greek, F = French, Ge = German, I = Italian, U = Unknown Origin)


bakterion = stick (G); phagein = to eat (G)


viluppo = tuft, bundle (I)


glykys = sweet (G); prote = primary (G)


eikosi = twenty (G); hedron = face (G)


lysis = loosening (G)


temperare = exercise restraint (L)


virus = slime, ooze (L)

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