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Structure of a virus

Viruses are very simple in structure and are made up of only two or three components:

  • Genetic material is the hereditary information of a virus. It is a collection of genes and carries all the information needed to allow the virus to replicate in a cell. The genome can be either RNA or DNA.
  • The capsid, or the protein coat, surrounds the genome. It consists of protein subunits called capsomeres linked to make a 3D structure.
  • The viral envelope surrounds some, but not all viruses. It is made up of a modified cell membrane obtained from the host cell as the virus leaves.

    The viral envelope is also known as the lipid envelope because it is formed of lipids.

The envelope and envelope proteins are not present in all viruses.
The envelope and envelope proteins are not present in all viruses.