Herpes Virus Blasts Infection Into Cells At High Pressure [Study]

A new study has revealed that the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV 1) actually blasts its way into the cells it infects under a high pressure measuring tens of atmospheres.

The study called Herpes Virus Genome, The Pressure Is On was published this month in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The American and Swedish team produced the striking image which you can see below, showing how the HSV 1 virus encapsulates its DNA genome into a protein shell and then blasts it right into the target.

Ouch. The team believes that viruses may have been using this technique for billions of years to infect their hosts.

Therefore, it seems logical that if researchers want to develop new anti-virals, they should take a look at ways to disrupt the ability of a virus to inject and infect.

Their study is a bit technical and also mostly behind a pay wall.

But there’s a longer write-up of the findings in Sci News — where they said that the HSV 1 virus “has an internal pressure eight times higher than a car tire.”

According to their report, scientists have suspected the high-pressure packaging existed for years. In the new study, it’s revealed that the double-stranded herpes virus DNA stuffed in the protein shell is 400 times longer than the radius of the shell.

In other words, the herpes virus is packed tight and ready to pop when it enters the victim’s cell nucleus.

According to one of the study’s researchers, Dr. Alex Evilevitch, the infection by injection mechanism isn’t something special to the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 which causes cold sores. He said it applied to all eight known members of the herpes virus family, including the dangerous varicella-zoster virus that causes chicken pox, shingles, and herpetic eye disease.

Herpes virus blast
Herpes Virus blast image by Dr. Alex Evilevitch et. all

[Herpes virus blast image via Journal of the American Chemistry Society]
[top virus image by Givina via Shutterstock]