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J Gen Virol. 2009 Mar;90(Pt 3):527-35. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.007674-0.

Cryo-electron tomography of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus: organization of the nucleocapsid.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.


Porcine reproductive and respiratory virus (PRRSV) is an enveloped positive-sense RNA virus of the family Arteriviridae that causes severe and persistent disease in pigs worldwide. The PRRSV virion consists of a lipid envelope that contains several envelope proteins surrounding a nucleocapsid core that encapsidates the RNA genome. To provide a better understanding of the structure and assembly of PRRSV, we have carried out cryo-electron microscopy and tomographic reconstruction of virions grown in MARC-145 cells. The virions are pleomorphic, round to egg-shaped particles with an average diameter of 58 nm. The particles display a smooth outer surface with only a few protruding features, presumably corresponding to the envelope protein complexes. The virions contain a double-layered, hollow core with an average diameter of 39 nm, which is separated from the envelope by a 2-3 nm gap. Analysis of the three-dimensional structure suggests that the core is composed of a double-layered chain of nucleocapsid proteins bundled into a hollow ball.

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