Introduction to Virus Infections and Hosts

Describe a viral infection and explain what impact an infection has on its host

Viruses are obligate, intracellular parasites. A virus must first recognize and attach to a specific living cell prior to entering it. After penetration, the invading virus must copy its genome and manufacture its own proteins. Finally, the progeny virions must escape the host cell so that they can infect other cells. Viruses can infect only certain species of hosts and only certain cells within that host. Specific host cells that a virus must occupy and use to replicate are called permissive. In most cases, the molecular basis for this specificity is due to a particular surface molecule known as the viral receptor on the host cell surface. A specific viral receptor is required for the virus to attach. In addition, differences in metabolism and host-cell immune responses (based on differential gene expression) are a likely factor in determining which cells a virus may target for replication.

What You’ll Learn to Do

  • List the steps of replication and explain what occurs at each step
  • Explain the transmission and diseases of viruses that infect animals
  • Explain the transmission and diseases of viruses that infect plants

Learning Activities

The learning activities for this section include the following:

  • Steps of Virus Infections
  • Different Hosts and Their Viruses
  • Self Check: Virus Infections and Hosts


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