In line with the recent article “Are viruses alive?” I would like to further explore the general nature of viruses. One question that I was recently asked was “how does a virus move?”
Being that viruses are not technically alive in the sense that we know it they also cannot move in a self-directed manner. This is in stark comparison to some other microbes such as Schistosomacercariae, a parasitic worm, which is capable of burrowing through intact human skin and gaining access to the vascular system within 5 minutes (1).
Thankfully viruses cannot do this, much to our benefit. Because of how they are constructed, viruses cannot mechanically move in a self-directed manner and are subject to movement solely based upon environmental interactions. Essentially, they are not only hijackers who take over cellular processes for their own good, but environmental hitchhikers as well. Continue reading How do viruses move outside the cell?→
In a sense, viruses are molecular hijackers bent on subverting host defenses, taking over a host cell’s ability to control nucleic acid and protein processing functions, and making copies of themselves to go out and infect more cells.
Viruses don’t divide like cells, don’t generate their own energy, and are fully dependent on host cells and their proteins to replicate.
Don’t let this simplicity fool you though, viruses have very sophisticated means of taking over cells and turning them into factories for making even more viral copies. However, since viruses are not capable of accomplishing many of the major of functions of life on their own outside of the host cell it has been debated for many years whether viruses are actually “alive.” Continue reading Are Viruses Alive?→