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Mol Membr Biol. 2003 Jul-Sep;20(3):243-54.

Modulation of entry of enveloped viruses by cholesterol and sphingolipids (Review).

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Laboratory of Experimental and Computational Biology, Center for Cancer Research NCI-Frederick, NIH, PO Box B, Bldg. 469, Rm. 211, Miller Drive Frederick, MD 21702-1201, USA.


Enveloped animal viruses infect host cells by fusion of viral and target membranes. This crucial fusion event occurs either with the plasma membrane of the host cells at the physiological pH or with the endosomal membranes at low pH and is triggered by specific glycoproteins in the virus envelope. Both lipids and proteins play critical and co-operative roles in the fusion process. Interactions of viral proteins with their receptors direct which membranes fuse and viral fusion proteins then drive the process. These fusion proteins operate on lipid assemblies, whose physical and mechanical properties are equally important to the proper functioning of the process. Lipids contribute to the viral fusion process by virtue of their distinct chemical structure, composition and/or their preferred partitioning into specific microdomains in the plasma membrane called 'rafts'. An involvement of lipid rafts in viral entry and membrane fusion has been examined recently. However, the mechanism(s) by which lipids as dynamic raft components control viral envelope-glycoprotein-triggered fusion is not clear. This paper will review literature findings on the contribution of the two raft-associated lipids, cholesterol and sphingolipids in viral entry.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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