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Virology. 2006 Jan 5;344(1):30-7.

Paramyxovirus membrane fusion: lessons from the F and HN atomic structures.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208-3500, USA.


Paramyxoviruses enter cells by fusion of their lipid envelope with the target cell plasma membrane. Fusion of the viral membrane with the plasma membrane allows entry of the viral genome into the cytoplasm. For paramyxoviruses, membrane fusion occurs at neutral pH, but the trigger mechanism that controls the viral entry machinery such that it occurs at the right time and in the right place remains to be elucidated. Two viral glycoproteins are key to the infection process-an attachment protein that varies among different paramyxoviruses and the fusion (F) protein, which is found in all paramyxoviruses. For many of the paramyxoviruses (parainfluenza viruses 1-5, mumps virus, Newcastle disease virus and others), the attachment protein is the hemagglutinin/neuraminidase (HN) protein. In the last 5 years, atomic structures of paramyxovirus F and HN proteins have been reported. The knowledge gained from these structures towards understanding the mechanism of viral membrane fusion is described.

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