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Mol Membr Biol. 1999 Jan-Mar;16(1):3-9.

Structural basis for membrane fusion by enveloped viruses.

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Laboratory of Molecular Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Enveloped viruses such as HIV-1, influenza virus, and Ebola virus express a surface glycoprotein that mediates both cell attachment and fusion of viral and cellular membranes. The membrane fusion process leads to the release of viral proteins and the RNA genome into the host cell, initiating an infectious cycle. This review focuses on the HIV-1 gp41 membrane fusion protein and discusses the structural similarities of viral membrane fusion proteins from diverse families such as Retroviridae (HIV-1), Orthomyxoviridae (influenza virus), and Filoviridae (Ebola virus). Their structural organization suggests that they have all evolved to use a similar strategy to promote fusion of viral and cellular membranes. This observation led to the proposal of a general model for viral membrane fusion, which will be discussed in detail.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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