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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 May 17;293(4):1153-60.

Viral fusion peptides and identification of membrane-interacting segments.

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Systèmes moléculaires & Biologie structurale, LMCP, CNRS UMR 7590, Universités Paris 6 et Paris 7, case 115, 4 place Jussieu, Paris Cedex 05 FR-75252, France


Viral envelope glycoproteins promote infection by mediating fusion between viral and cellular membranes. Fusion occurs after dramatic conformational changes within fusion proteins, leading to the exposure of a short stretch of mostly apolar residues, termed the fusion peptide, which is presumed to insert into the membrane and initiate the fusion process. The typical global composition of fusion peptides, rich in hydrophobic but also in small amino acids such as alanine and glycine, was used here as bait to detect other peptidic segments that can insert into membranes. We so evidenced a similar composition in several cytotoxic peptides, which promote pore formation such as peptides involved in amyloidoses and hydrophobic alpha-hairpins of pore-forming toxins. It is suggested that the structural plasticity observed for several membrane active peptides can be conferred by this particular global amino acid composition, which could be thus used to predict such functional behavior from genome data.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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