How much does a virus cost?

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  23 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6344, pp. 1244
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6344.1244-b

Without cells, viruses cease to be biologically functional. They need to consume a host's energy to replicate, and they can rewire cell metabolism to do so. To quantify the degree of selection that a virus exerts and experiences, Mahmoudabadi et al. asked what the energetic cost of viral replication is. Influenza virus and the bacteriophage T4 were taken as examples of high (6000 particles) and low (200 particles) burst sizes, respectively. Breaking down the viral life cycle into entry, intracellular transport, genome replication, transcription, translation, assembly, and exit, calculations showed that translation creates the greatest energetic demand. T4 consumes about 30% of the host's energy supply and possesses auxiliary metabolic genes to ensure that it gets the energy it needs. In contrast, the higher burst size of the influenza virus costs just 1% of the total cell budget because the metabolic energy capacity of a eukaryotic cell is much greater than that of a bacterium.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1701670114 (2017).

Navigate This Article