So in the video my instructor sent on viruses, he said that for lytic viruses, new viruses manufactured by the host cell could get out of the cell in one of two ways.

  • The new viruses would leave by exocytosis. or,
  • The cell would be "ruptured" and the new viruses would "erupt out of the cell".

In the rupturing option, is the cell destroyed? The way he phrased it as well as his tone of voice brought to mind an image of the cell bursting and the viruses spilling out....but the diagram showed a little gap in the cell membrane, and the viruses leaving from that one exit point.

Which is more accurate?




1 Answer 1


Yes, ruptured here means that the host cell is destroyed. The virus "hijacks" the cell anyway and uses its protein production machinery to make as much virus particles and its transcription enzymes to makes as many viral genomes as possible. If the ressources of the cell are exhausted, it get destroyed and the viruses are set free.

See this image (from the Wikipedia article on the lytic process). It actually doesn't matter, if the virus infects the cell from the outside or if it comes from the genome.

enter image description here

  1. Adsorption of the virus to the cell.
  2. Injection of its genetic material into the cell.
  3. Production of new viruses (hull and genome).
  4. Rupture of the cell and release of the viruses.
  • $\begingroup$ I understand now that the cell is destroyed either way. But is it more likely to be destroyed physically (ruptured) or because of exhaustion of resources? $\endgroup$
    – evamvid
    Mar 10, 2014 at 17:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Rupture and release of the virus happens, when the ressources are exhausted. So one event happens before the next. Then there are phages, which can leave the cell without destroying them before, the phage M13 is such an example. It expresses proteins which make a pore in the cells membrane which the phages can pass. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Mar 10, 2014 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ After the phages leave, what happens to the cell? Does it still have the viral DNA? Does it make more viruses? Or does it carry on with normal business like it was never infected? $\endgroup$
    – evamvid
    Mar 10, 2014 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ Its dead. The membrane is destroyed, and it can not do anything anymore. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Mar 10, 2014 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ I'm confused...I thought you said that some phages can exit without destroying the cell by expressing proteins which basically open a hole in the cell membrane and let the phages out. Is that correct? If so, what I was trying to figure out is, after this process, does the undestroyed cell then carry on with normal business, or does it keep making viruses? $\endgroup$
    – evamvid
    Mar 10, 2014 at 18:32

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