The viral envelope

Envelopes are much more common in animal viruses than in those of plants. The lipid bilayer covering an enveloped virus is derived from the nuclear or cytoplasmic membrane of a previous host. Embedded in this, however, are proteins (usually glycoproteins) encoded by the virus's own genome. These may project from the surface of the virion as spikes, which may be instrumental in allowing the virus to bind to or penetrate its host cell (Figure 10.6). The envelope is more susceptible than the capsid to environmental pressures, and the virus needs to remain moist in order to survive. Consequently, such viruses are transmitted by means of body fluids such as blood (e.g. hepatitis B virus) or respiratory secretions (e.g. influenza virus).

The icosahedron has a low surface-area to volume ratio, allowing for the maximum amount of nucleic acid to be packaged.

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