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Trends Microbiol. 2009 Nov;17(11):514-21. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2009.08.002. Epub 2009 Sep 30.

Dealing with low pH: entry and exit of alphaviruses and flaviviruses.

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Department of Cell Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


The alphaviruses and flaviviruses include many important human pathogens, such as the dengue, West Nile, and Chikungunya viruses. These enveloped viruses infect cells by a membrane fusion reaction triggered by the low pH in endosomes. Fusion is mediated by viral membrane proteins through their acid-dependent conversion from a dimer on the virus surface to a homotrimer inserted into the host cell membrane. Here we review recent studies on the regulatory mechanisms that silence these fusion proteins during virus exit and that sense low pH and mediate protein refolding during virus entry. We discuss results using truncated proteins to dissect the fusion reaction, and future research directions including the development of antiviral therapies against these medically important viruses.

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