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Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 384919, 8 pages
Review Article

Lipids of Archaeal Viruses

Department of Biosciences and Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 56, Viikinkaari 5, 00014 Helsinki, Finland

Received 9 July 2012; Accepted 13 August 2012

Academic Editor: Angela Corcelli

Copyright © 2012 Elina Roine and Dennis H. Bamford. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Archaeal viruses represent one of the least known territory of the viral universe and even less is known about their lipids. Based on the current knowledge, however, it seems that, as in other viruses, archaeal viral lipids are mostly incorporated into membranes that reside either as outer envelopes or membranes inside an icosahedral capsid. Mechanisms for the membrane acquisition seem to be similar to those of viruses infecting other host organisms. There are indications that also some proteins of archaeal viruses are lipid modified. Further studies on the characterization of lipids in archaeal viruses as well as on their role in virion assembly and infectivity require not only highly purified viral material but also, for example, constant evaluation of the adaptability of emerging technologies for their analysis. Biological membranes contain proteins and membranes of archaeal viruses are not an exception. Archaeal viruses as relatively simple systems can be used as excellent tools for studying the lipid protein interactions in archaeal membranes.