The Orange and the Circus Tent

Illustrations by Grady McFerrin

What viruses teach us about the workings of mammalian cells.

By Ari Helenius

Article Extras


In those days, my interest was largely biochemical, particularly in the properties of membrane proteins, although I did also spend a lot of time trying to take the virus apart to its individual components, in an attempt to recreate the infectious particle from scratch. Needless to say, that project never panned out. While fascinated by the simplicity of the virus and its conceptual beauty, my interest at that time was not in the biology of the virus, in viral multiplication in the host cells, or in disease. That would come later.

In 1975 both Kai, Henrik Garoff, and I moved with our families to Heidelberg, Germany, to start working in the newly-founded European Molecular Biology Laboratory. EMBL enjoyed a wonderful mix of nationalities and...

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