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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2006 Sep;30(5):692-705.

Central role of the respiratory syncytial virus matrix protein in infection.

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Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton, Australia.


Respiratory syncytial virus is the major respiratory pathogen of infants and children worldwide, with no effective treatment or vaccine available. Steady progress has been made in understanding the respiratory syncytial virus life cycle and the consequences of infection, but many areas of respiratory syncytial virus biology remain poorly understood, including the role of subcellular localisation of respiratory syncytial virus gene products such as the matrix protein in the infected host cell. The matrix protein plays a central role in viral assembly and, intriguingly, has been observed to traffic into and out of the nucleus at specific times during the respiratory syncytial virus infectious cycle. Further, the matrix protein has been shown to be able to inhibit transcription, which may be a key to respiratory syncytial virus pathogenesis. This review will focus on the role of the matrix protein in respiratory syncytial virus infection and what is known of its nucleocytoplasmic trafficking, the understanding of which may lead to new therapeutic approaches to combat respiratory syncytial virus, and/or vaccine development.

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