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Annu Rev Virol. 2014 Nov;1(1):517-37. doi: 10.1146/annurev-virology-031413-085444. Epub 2014 Jul 9.

Parvoviruses: Small Does Not Mean Simple.

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Departments of 1Laboratory Medicine and.
Genetics, Yale University Medical School, New Haven, Connecticut 06510; email:


Parvoviruses are small, rugged, nonenveloped protein particles containing a linear, nonpermuted, single-stranded DNA genome of ∼5 kb. Their limited coding potential requires optimal adaptation to the environment of particular host cells, where entry is mediated by a variable program of capsid dynamics, ultimately leading to genome ejection from intact particles within the host nucleus. Genomes are amplified by a continuous unidirectional strand-displacement mechanism, a linear adaptation of rolling circle replication that relies on the repeated folding and unfolding of small hairpin telomeres to reorient the advancing fork. Progeny genomes are propelled by the viral helicase into the preformed capsid via a pore at one of its icosahedral fivefold axes. Here we explore how the fine-tuning of this unique replication system and the mechanics that regulate opening and closing of the capsid fivefold portals have evolved in different viral lineages to create a remarkably complex spectrum of phenotypes.


capsid portals; dynamic protein cylinder; early virion release; limited coding capacity; rolling hairpin replication; viral diversity

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