Virus trading cards


This week’s infographic is a set of virus trading cards! Viruses are surprisingly symmetrical, and I love them because they remind me of a biological version of snowflakes. Each trading card shows you the structure of the viral capsid - the protein shell protecting the genetic material inside a virus. I wanted to make a collection that showcased a variety of viruses that are a current public health concern.

I picked three human diseases that I thought would be particularly relevant - HPV (which causes cervical cancer), Adenovirus (which causes the common cold), and Dengue (a close relative of the Zika virus). Edit: The Zika virus structure was not known at the time. I also included Chlorella Virus (which infects a non-human host) to add more diversity to the trading card collection.

To make these cards I used UCSF Chimera, a molecular modeling program used by many researchers. When sccientists discover a new protein structure, they upload it to the Worldwide Protein Data Bank. Each entry is assigned a unique ID number, which you can use to look at the 3D protein model in many different magnifications. In this set of virus trading cards, I decided to show each viral capsid at two different magnifications - a coarse version on the left and a finely detailed version on the right.

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