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Nat Struct Biol. 2003 Nov;10(11):907-12. Epub 2003 Oct 5.

Visualization of membrane protein domains by cryo-electron microscopy of dengue virus.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Lilly Hall, 915 W. State Street, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.


Improved technology for reconstructing cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) images has now made it possible to determine secondary structural features of membrane proteins in enveloped viruses. The structure of mature dengue virus particles was determined to a resolution of 9.5 A by cryo-EM and image reconstruction techniques, establishing the secondary structural disposition of the 180 envelope (E) and 180 membrane (M) proteins in the lipid envelope. The alpha-helical 'stem' regions of the E molecules, as well as part of the N-terminal section of the M proteins, are buried in the outer leaflet of the viral membrane. The 'anchor' regions of E and the M proteins each form antiparallel E-E and M-M transmembrane alpha-helices, leaving their C termini on the exterior of the viral membrane, consistent with the predicted topology of the unprocessed polyprotein. This is one of only a few determinations of the disposition of transmembrane proteins in situ and shows that the nucleocapsid core and envelope proteins do not have a direct interaction in the mature virus.

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