Membrane proteins organize a symmetrical virus

Kerstin Forsell, Li Xing, Tatyana Kozlovska, R. Holland Cheng, Henrik Garoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Alphaviruses are enveloped icosahedral viruses that mature by budding at the plasma membrane. According to a prevailing model maturation is driven by binding of membrane protein spikes to a preformed nucleocapsid (NC). The T = 4 geometry of the membrane is thought to be imposed by the NC through one-to-one interactions between spike protomers and capsid proteins (CPs). This model is challenged here by a Semliki Forest virus capsid gene mutant. Its CPs cannot assemble into NCs, or its intermediate structures, due to defective CP-CP interactions. Nevertheless, it can use its horizontal spike-spike interactions on membrane surface and vertical spike-CP interactions to make a particle with correct geometry and protein stoichiometry. Thus, our results highlight the direct role of membrane proteins in organizing the icosahedral conformation of alphaviruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5081-5091
Number of pages11
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Alphavirus
  • Budding
  • Glycoprotein
  • Horizontal interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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