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Proteins. 2008 Apr;71(1):407-14.

Residue conservation in viral capsid assembly.

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Yeast Structural Genomics, IBBMC Université Paris-Sud, CNRS UMR 8619, 91405-Orsay, France.


To evaluate the evolutionary constraints placed on viral proteins by the structure and assembly of the capsid, we calculate Shannon entropies in the aligned sequences of 45 polypeptide chains in 32 icosahedral viruses, and relate these entropies to the residue location in the three-dimensional structure of the capsids. Three categories of residues have entropies lower than the chain average implying that they are better conserved than average: residues that are buried within a subunit (the protein core), residues that contain atoms buried at an interface between subunits (the interface core), and residues that contribute to several such interfaces. The interface core is also conserved in homomeric proteins and in transient protein-protein complexes, which have only one interface whereas capsids have many. In capsids, the subunit interfaces implicate most of the polypeptide chain: on average, 66% of the capsid residues are at an interface, 34% at more than one, and 47% at the interface core. Nevertheless, we observe that the degree of residue conservation can vary widely between interfaces within a capsid and between regions within an interface. The interfaces and regions of interfaces that show a low sequence variability are likely to play major roles in the self-assembly of the capsid, with implications on its mechanism that we discuss taking adeno-associated virus as an example.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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