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Tracking viral DNA in the cell

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Cell biologists and chemists from the University of Zurich reveal how viral DNA traffics in human cells. They have developed a new method to generate virus particles containing labeled viral DNA genomes. This allowed them to visualize, for the first time, single viral genomes in the cytoplasm and the nucleus by using fluorescence microscopy in regular or superresolution mode. The new findings enhance our understanding of how viral disease occurs, and how cells respond to infections.

The medical, humanitarian and economical impact of viral diseases is devastating to humans and livestock. There are no adequate therapies available against most viral diseases, largely because the mechanisms by which viruses infect cells are poorly known. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Zurich headed by cell biologist Prof. Urs Greber now presents a method that can be used to display viral DNA in host cells at single-molecule resolution. The method gives unexpected insights into the distribution of viral DNA in cells, and the reaction of cells to viral DNA.

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