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Annu Rev Virol. 2014 Nov;1(1):453-73. doi: 10.1146/annurev-virology-031413-085351. Epub 2014 Jul 9.

Three-Dimensional Imaging of Viral Infections.

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Cell Structure Laboratory, National Center for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC), Madrid 28049, Spain; email:
Laboratory of Cell Biology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892; email:


Three-dimensional (3D) imaging technologies are beginning to have significant impact in the field of virology, as they are helping us understand how viruses take control of cells. In this article we review several methodologies for 3D imaging of cells and show how these technologies are contributing to the study of viral infections and the characterization of specialized structures formed in virus-infected cells. We include 3D reconstruction by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) using serial sections, electron tomography, and focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM). We summarize from these methods selected contributions to our understanding of viral entry, replication, morphogenesis, egress and propagation, and changes in the spatial architecture of virus-infected cells. In combination with live-cell imaging, correlative microscopy, and new techniques for molecular mapping in situ, the availability of these methods for 3D imaging is expected to provide deeper insights into understanding the structural and dynamic aspects of viral infection.


3D electron microscopy; virus egress; virus entry; virus factory; virus replication; virus-cell interactions

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