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Nature. 2017 Nov 16;551(7680):394-397. doi: 10.1038/nature24490. Epub 2017 Nov 8.

Structure and assembly of the Ebola virus nucleocapsid.

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Structural and Computational Biology Unit, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstraße 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.
Institut für Virologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Hans-Meerwein-Straße 2, 35043 Marburg, Germany.
Laboratory of Ultrastructural Virology, Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan.
PRESTO, Japan Science and Technology Agency, Saitama 332-0012, Japan.
Structural Studies Division, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Francis Crick Avenue, Cambridge CB2 0QH, UK.


Ebola and Marburg viruses are filoviruses: filamentous, enveloped viruses that cause haemorrhagic fever. Filoviruses are within the order Mononegavirales, which also includes rabies virus, measles virus, and respiratory syncytial virus. Mononegaviruses have non-segmented, single-stranded negative-sense RNA genomes that are encapsidated by nucleoprotein and other viral proteins to form a helical nucleocapsid. The nucleocapsid acts as a scaffold for virus assembly and as a template for genome transcription and replication. Insights into nucleoprotein-nucleoprotein interactions have been derived from structural studies of oligomerized, RNA-encapsidating nucleoprotein, and cryo-electron microscopy of nucleocapsid or nucleocapsid-like structures. There have been no high-resolution reconstructions of complete mononegavirus nucleocapsids. Here we apply cryo-electron tomography and subtomogram averaging to determine the structure of Ebola virus nucleocapsid within intact viruses and recombinant nucleocapsid-like assemblies. These structures reveal the identity and arrangement of the nucleocapsid components, and suggest that the formation of an extended α-helix from the disordered carboxy-terminal region of nucleoprotein-core links nucleoprotein oligomerization, nucleocapsid condensation, RNA encapsidation, and accessory protein recruitment.

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