Current Opinion in Microbiology – Viruses: foe, freeloader or friend?

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The study of virus–host interactions has historically focused on what occurs between the virus particle and the host cell at a molecular level. Because of their simple genomes and small repertoire of virally encoded proteins, studying the effects of virus infection on the host cell is ideal for uncovering cellular activities and functions that would otherwise be difficult to distinguish due to overlapping pathways. When viewed at the cellular level, virus interactions with the host lean more towards aggression, where the virus is an enemy or at best, an unwelcome guest. Like party crashers, they quietly enter through doors and windows normally meant for other uses, eat their way through kitchen, and make a mess of the living room. By the time anyone notices, they have invited all of their friends and are destroying the place like rockstars trash hotel rooms. The first half of the issue then, covers virus–host interactions at the cellular level and highlights new research on some of the ways by which these unwanted guests get in, take over and get out.

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