While viruses pose a persistent threat to human health, the ability to measure the behavior of a single virus particle through the entire infection process is elusive. The critical steps in viral infection have long been studied by indirect biochemical assays, live cell fluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy. These measurements have shed light on the final stages of viral infection, where the virus has already attached to the tissue and has started the process of replicating its genetic material. However, this ignores the critical first stages, where the virus searches the complex extracellular space to find an infection site. Advances in real-time 3D microscopy opens a new possibility of tracking the entire viral infection process, allowing us to probe the long range interactions between the virus and the cell, the dynamics of viral attachment to the cell surface and the role of receptors in internalization.
Real-time 3D tracking of a YFP labelled lentivirus using 3D Dynamic Photon Localization Tracking (3D-DyPLoT)