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J Gen Virol. 2003 Apr;84(Pt 4):757-68.

Do lipid rafts mediate virus assembly and pseudotyping?

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  • 1Division of Structural Biology, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Henry Wellcome Building for Genomic Medicine, University of Oxford, Roosevelt Drive, Headington, Oxford OX3 7BN, UK.


Co-infection of a host cell by two unrelated enveloped viruses can lead to the production of pseudotypes: virions containing the genome of one virus but the envelope proteins of both viruses. The selection of components during virus assembly must therefore be flexible enough to allow the incorporation of unrelated viral membrane proteins, yet specific enough to exclude the bulk of host proteins. This apparent contradiction has been termed the pseudotypic paradox. There is mounting evidence that lipid rafts play a role in the assembly pathway of non-icosahedral, enveloped viruses. Viral components are concentrated initially in localized regions of the plasma membrane via their interaction with lipid raft domains. Lateral interactions of viral structural proteins amplify the changes in local lipid composition which in turn enhance the concentration of viral proteins in the rafts. An affinity for lipid rafts may be the common feature of enveloped virus proteins that leads to the formation of pseudotypes.

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