An intersting news report from the Press Trust of India describing how scientists can now “see” and “touch” a herpes virus particle.
“Scientists have led to the first description of the mechanics of so-called nuclear herpes virus capsids — complex icosahedral protein shells covering and shielding the genetic material of the virus.
Nuclear Herpes Simplex Virus particles measure only 125 nanometres, and therefore, the structure and surface of individual particles can only be studied with methods that have a resolution higher than that of a light microscope.
With the help of an Atomic Force Microscope, one can now ‘feel’ the particles and image them by scanning systematically over the surface, like the needle on a record player. From these measurements, an international team can assemble a detailed topograph ic relief of individual viral structures. This can be done in liquid under conditions mimicking living cells. Most importantly, this system allows the mechanical manipulation of particles, as one really touches them.
The researchers used this approach to gain new insights into the mechanics of these viral particles: they punched holes into them, one by one. The force needed to do this gave information about the elastic and mechanical properties of the herpes virus pa rticles.” - Press Trust of India