A mosquito-borne virus that can cause severe illness in humans, the dengue virus is shaped like a soccer ball, but at around 50 nm in diameter, it is about 4.5 million times smaller. This 3D model of the virus shows the symmetrical arrangement of the major viral surface glycoprotein, which is a protein decorated with sugar molecules. This outer coat sits on a lipid bilayer membrane that encloses the virus’s RNA genome. The glycoprotein binds to the cells of an infected person, allowing the viral membrane to fuse with the host cell and release the viral genome inside. Dengue fever is a threat to millions of people in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including many countries in central and South America. The disease has made recent headlines around the world because of outbreaks in Brazil, where the World Cup games started on June 12, 2014. Currently, no vaccines or drugs target dengue and the only protection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
To print a 3D model of the dengue virus, download the STL printing file at http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/dengue-virus.
Fabian de Kok-Mercado, HHMI
This 3D model consists of the outermost structural protein (envelope glycoprotein) of the dengue virus. It is based on 3D cryo-electron microscopy data published on the Protein Data Bank. The genome of the dengue virus codes for 10 proteins. Three of these are structural proteins that form the outer coat. The other seven proteins are considered nonstructural. They drive the production of new viruses once they are inside the host cell.