Viruses such as polio are so well documented that a search for "empirical formula polio" gives you something like


We know that the virus consists of 70% protein, 22% phospholipid, 6.5% DNA, 1.5% carbohydrate (from the book Herpes Simplex and Pseudorabies Viruses by Kaplan)

Is there any information on the actual chemical composition of HSV1 and varieties?


  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE. What do you mean with atomic arrangement? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 2:28
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I'm mostly curious about the chemical composition in elements like in the above. $\endgroup$
    – sova
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Arrangement sounded like you were interested in the spatial relationships between (all the) atoms $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 2:45
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You should modify your question as people are giving misplaced answers. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ I doubt that such a formula exists for HSV 1, and for good reason: It actually is one of the most massive viruses known $\endgroup$
    – Raoul
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 17:15

1 Answer 1


The Herpes viruses have a unique four-layered structure: a core containing the large, double-stranded DNA genome is enclosed by an icosapentahedral capsid which is composed of capsomers. The capsid is surrounded by an amorphous protein coat called the tegument. It is encased in a glycoprotein-bearing lipid bilayer envelope 1.


You can watch an animation of infection and steps of replication here, and below the video, they say that

HSV is a nuclear replicating, icosahedral, enveloped DNA virus. The HSV envelope contains at least 8 glycoproteins. The matrix or tegument which contacts both the envelope and the capsid contains at least 15-20 proteins[2].

In this definition of the structure, they at least assigned some values to the makeup. Additionally, in wikipedia, the viral genome is listed which I would recommend you take a look at as well. It can be found here but here is the synopsis of the table

UL1 through UL56
US1 through US12

Additional resources:

  1. HSV Genome 2nd link
  2. The use of microarrays to analyze gene expression
  3. Structural properties of HSV promoters
  4. Animation of the Construction of a HSV-1 DNA Microarray for Global Analysis of Transcript Abundance
  5. Animation of the Time-dependant Changes in HSV-1 Transcript Abundance During Productive Infection
  6. Some Genetic Functions Encoded by Herpes Simplex Virus type 1
  7. Herpes Simplex Virus Oligonucleotide Probes used in the DNA-microarray

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