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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2008 Jul;15(7):690-8. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.1456.

Viral membrane fusion.

Author information

1
Jack and Eileen Connors Structural Biology Laboratory, Harvard Medical School, Laboratory of Molecular Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 250 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA. harrison@crystal.harvard.edu

Abstract

Infection by viruses having lipid-bilayer envelopes proceeds through fusion of the viral membrane with a membrane of the target cell. Viral 'fusion proteins' facilitate this process. They vary greatly in structure, but all seem to have a common mechanism of action, in which a ligand-triggered, large-scale conformational change in the fusion protein is coupled to apposition and merger of the two bilayers. We describe three examples--the influenza virus hemagglutinin, the flavivirus E protein and the vesicular stomatitis virus G protein--in some detail, to illustrate the ways in which different structures have evolved to implement this common mechanism. Fusion inhibitors can be effective antiviral agents.

PMID:
18596815
PMCID:
PMC2517140
DOI:
10.1038/nsmb.1456
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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