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Virology. 2006 Jan 5;344(1):48-54.

Poxvirus entry and membrane fusion.

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Laboratory of Viral Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0445, USA.


The study of poxvirus entry and membrane fusion has been invigorated by new biochemical and microscopic findings that lead to the following conclusions: (1) the surface of the mature virion (MV), whether isolated from an infected cell or by disruption of the membrane wrapper of an extracellular virion, is comprised of a single lipid membrane embedded with non-glycosylated viral proteins; (2) the MV membrane fuses with the cell membrane, allowing the core to enter the cytoplasm and initiate gene expression; (3) fusion is mediated by a newly recognized group of viral protein components of the MV membrane, which are conserved in all members of the poxvirus family; (4) the latter MV entry/fusion proteins are required for cell to cell spread necessitating the disruption of the membrane wrapper of extracellular virions prior to fusion; and furthermore (5) the same group of MV entry/fusion proteins are required for virus-induced cell-cell fusion. Future research priorities include delineation of the roles of individual entry/fusion proteins and identification of cell receptors.

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