The measles vaccine is impressively effective, with 99% of people protected against measles after 2 doses. The active ingredient is “live” measles virus that has been attenuated, meaning it replicates poorly inside its usual host cells. However, because the virus is able to replicate a little, it stimulates a robust immune response and lasting immunity. To attenuate the virus, it is replicated inside a chick embryo cell line grown in tissue culture. Eventually, after rounds of replication and adaptation to chick cells, the virus ceases to replicate well in human cells. Name one structural component of the virus that, if altered during serial passage on chick cells, could give rise to cells that no longer replicate well in a human host. Explain how mutation of this structural component could lead to a switch in host cell preference.

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