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Trends Microbiol. 2002 Jan;10(1):15-24.

Assembly of vaccinia virus revisited: de novo membrane synthesis or acquisition from the host?

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Institute of Biochemistry, Hannover Medical School, OE 4310, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, D-30625 Hannover, Germany.


In 1968 it was proposed that the first membrane structures that assemble in vaccinia virus-infected cells, the crescents, are formed by a unique viral mechanism in which a single membrane bilayer is synthesized de novo. 25 years later it was suggested that the vaccinia membranes are derived from an organelle that is part of the host cell's secretory pathway, the intermediate compartment (IC), and that the viral crescents are made of two tightly apposed membranes rather than a single bilayer. Several independent studies have subsequently shown that membrane proteins of the intracellular mature virus (IMV) insert co-translationally into endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes, and are targeted to and retained in the IC, the compartment from which the virus acquires its membranes. Furthermore, a recent study on the entry of both the IMV and extracellular enveloped virus (EEV) suggests that these viruses do not enter by a simple fusion mechanism, consistent with the idea that both are surrounded by more than one lipid bilayer.

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