This thin-section transmission electron micrograph (TEM) revealed the ultrastructural appearance of a single virus particle, or virion, of measles virus. The measles virus is a paramyxovirus
, of the genus Morbillivirus
. It is 100-200 nm in diameter, with a core of single-stranded RNA, and is closely related to the rinderpest
and canine distemper
viruses. Two membrane envelope proteins are important in pathogenesis. They are the F (fusion) protein, which is responsible for fusion of virus and host cell membranes, viral penetration, and hemolysis, and the H (hemagglutinin) protein, which is responsible for adsorption of virus to cells.
There is only one antigenic type of measles virus. Although studies have documented changes in the H glycoprotein, these changes do not appear to be epidemiologically important (i.e., no change in vaccine efficacy has been observed). See PHIL 10707 for a colorized version of this image.