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A hypothetical infectious particle postulated as the cause of scrapie, BSE, and CJD, consisting of non-coding nucleic acid in a protective coat made from host cell proteins.Compare with prion
- ‘Some scientists claim that because there are many types of TSE agent, the virino is a more likely explanation.’
- ‘A competing theory points to virinos (mini viruses), that are using particularly tough protein ‘shells’ to contain their small amount of nucleic acid.’
- ‘In the virino model, the host protein protects the scrapie agent nucleic acid from degradation and prevents the host raising an immune response, since the protein/nucleic acid complex is seen as ‘self’.’
- ‘Taxonomically this places virinos between conventional viruses and viroids (a class of plant pathogens which neither need nor code for proteins to be infectious).’
- ‘In support of the virino hypothesis is the existence of different strains of prions that cause differing patterns of disease and breed true; the existence of strains in pathogens is usually the result of changes in the nucleic acid sequence of the infectious agent.’
1970s: from virus + the diminutive suffix -ino.
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