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J Mol Biol. 1999 Sep 10;292(1):65-73.

Yeast Ty retrotransposons assemble into virus-like particles whose T-numbers depend on the C-terminal length of the capsid protein.

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Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HX, UK.


The virus-like particles (VLPs) produced by the yeast Ty retrotransposons are structurally and functionally related to retroviral cores. Using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction, we have examined the structures of VLPs assembled from full-length and truncated forms of the capsid structural protein. The VLPs are highly polydisperse in their radius distribution. We have found that the length of the C-terminal region of the capsid structural protein dictates the T -number, and thus the size, of the assembled particles. Each construct studied appears to assemble into at least two or three size classes, with shorter C termini giving rise to smaller particles. This assembly property provides a model for understanding the variable assembly of retroviral core proteins. The particles are assembled from trimer-clustered units and there are holes in the capsid shells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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