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J Virol. 2011 May;85(10):4822-7. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02598-10. Epub 2011 Mar 2.

Structure of a packaging-defective mutant of minute virus of mice indicates that the genome is packaged via a pore at a 5-fold axis.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.


The parvovirus minute virus of mice (MVM) packages a single copy of its linear single-stranded DNA genome into preformed capsids, in a process that is probably driven by a virus-encoded helicase. Parvoviruses have a roughly cylindrically shaped pore that surrounds each of the 12 5-fold vertices. The pore, which penetrates the virion shell, is created by the juxtaposition of 10 antiparallel β-strands, two from each of the 5-fold-related capsid proteins. There is a bottleneck in the channel formed by the symmetry-related side chains of the leucines at position 172. We report here the X-ray crystal structure of the particles produced by a leucine-to-tryptophan mutation at position 172 and the analysis of its biochemical properties. The mutant capsid had its 5-fold channel blocked, and the particles were unable to package DNA, strongly suggesting that the 5-fold pore is the packaging portal for genome entry.

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