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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2003 Jul 11;1614(1):73-84.

Structure and function of a paramyxovirus fusion protein.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.


Paramyxoviruses initiate infection by attaching to cell surface receptors and fusing viral and cell membranes. Viral attachment proteins, hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN), hemagglutinin (HA), or glycoprotein (G), bind receptors while fusion (F) proteins direct membrane fusion. Because paramyxovirus fusion is pH independent, virus entry occurs at host cell plasma membranes. Paramyxovirus fusion also usually requires co-expression of both the attachment protein and the fusion (F) protein. Newcastle disease virus (NDV) has assumed increased importance as a prototype paramyxovirus because crystal structures of both the NDV F protein and the attachment protein (HN) have been determined. Furthermore, analysis of structure and function of both viral glycoproteins by mutation, reactivity of antibody, and peptides have defined domains of the NDV F protein important for virus fusion. These domains include the fusion peptide, the cytoplasmic domain, as well as heptad repeat (HR) domains. Peptides with sequences from HR domains inhibit fusion, and characterization of the mechanism of this inhibition provides evidence for conformational changes in the F protein upon activation of fusion. Both proteolytic cleavage of the F protein and interactions with the attachment protein are required for fusion activation in most systems. Subsequent steps in membrane merger directed by F protein are poorly understood.

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