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Cell. 2001 Apr 6;105(1):127-136.

Locations of carbohydrate sites on alphavirus glycoproteins show that E1 forms an icosahedral scaffold.

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Department of Biological Sciences Purdue University West Lafayette, Indiana 47907.
Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry North Carolina State University Raleigh, North Carolina 27695.
Contributed equally


There are 80 spikes on the surface of Sindbis virus arranged as an icosahedral surface lattice. Each spike consists of three copies of each of the glycoproteins E1 and E2. There are two glycosylation sites on E1 and two on E2. These four sites have been located by removal of the glycosylation recognition motifs using site-specific mutagenesis, followed by cryoelectron microscopy. The positions of these sites have demonstrated that E2 forms the protruding spikes and that E1 must be long and narrow, lying flat on the viral surface, forming an icosahedral scaffold analogous to the arrangement of the E glycoprotein in flaviviruses. This arrangement of E1 leads to both dimeric and trimeric intermolecular contacts, consistent with the observed structural changes that occur on fusion with host cell membranes, suggesting a similar fusion mechanism for alpha- and flaviviruses.

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