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lysogenic cycle

The lysogenic cycle is one of two cycles of viral reproduction that occurs after a virus infects a host cell. Unlike the lytic cycle, which results in the rapid lysis of the host cell and the release of new viral particles, the lysogenic process is characterized by integrating the viral genome into the host cell's genome, leading to latent infection.

During the lysogenic cycle, the viral genome, which is often in the form of a circular or linear DNA molecule, is integrated into the host cell's chromosome through a process known as site-specific recombination. Once combined, the viral DNA, known as a prophage, is replicated and passed on to daughter cells during cell division.

While integrated into the host genome, the prophage remains inactive and does not produce viral particles. However, under certain conditions, such as exposure to stress or DNA damage, the prophage can be activated and enter the lytic cycle, producing new viral particles and the lysis of the host cell.

The lysogenic cycle is an essential mechanism for spreading viral genetic material and the evolution of new viral strains. By integrating into the host genome, viral genes can be passed on to future generations of host cells, potentially leading to the acquisition of new functions or adaptations. In some cases, lysogenic viruses can also benefit their host, such as increased resistance to environmental stressors.

One well-known example of a lysogenic virus is the bacteriophage lambda, which infects the bacterium Escherichia coli. Lambda can undergo both the lysogenic and lytic cycles, and the decision between the two is primarily determined by the presence or absence of a repressor protein that regulates the expression of the lytic genes. When the repressor is present, the virus enters the lysogenic cycle, while when the repressor is absent, the virus enters the lytic cycle.

Understanding the mechanisms of the lysogenic cycle is essential for developing strategies to control the spread of viral infections and developing new therapies and vaccines.


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