noun (plural virinos)Microbiology
A hypothetical infectious particle postulated as the cause of scrapie, BSE, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, consisting of noncoding nucleic acid in a protective coat made from host cell proteins. Compare with prion2.
- Some scientists claim that because there are many types of TSE agent, the virino is a more likely explanation.
- 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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